“to find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now” Samuel Beckett

My subject is light, usually intensely bright light combined with the human figure. In my pictures figures are melted into light, showered with light, cast hard shadows in oppressive heat, are exposed in the neon of a supermarket aisle or assembled in the glare of a glitzy banquet. Light in these works is not a comfortable thing but an image of a power that overwhelms, reveals and transforms, sometimes into something misshapen or grotesque.

Going towards the grotesque is going towards the unfamiliar and I like to turn figures into peculiar, hybrid things or into blots, messes and abstract shapes. The representational overtaken by abstraction is important to me because it is a way of challenging identity and also of reaching a point where the recognisable gives way to the unnamed. It dramatises and contrasts two ways of seeing – through names or through nameless shapes. I want something that starts as a spectacle of everyday life–on the beach or in the mall–to end in a painting of something uncanny or mysterious.



Guardian journalist Carole Jahme’s interview in my studio: