Interview by Jacob Warren
JW: Can you tell us about your style of painting - who and what influences your approach?
BA: I describe my work as figurative. It's quite opaque and gestural at times built up over a patchwork of marks that cross between considered and spontaneous. They're concerned with colour, form, light and contrast, inhabiting a realm that might plausibly exist. A concurrent theme throughout my work is the idea and response to memory. Something that interests me is the constant re-evaluating of past experiences and how each time you consider a past event it is reconstructed. As time passes these events become idealised, the conflicting and colliding content within one picture plane most noticeable in recent work is a response to these intangible notions. As I come to terms with time and a sense of loss, my awareness of this as content to portray has heightened and lead me to think objectively about current events and how they will materialise throughout a duration of time.
- the multiple perspectives in 'Rural Landscape' (above) are a good example of
Anderson's materialisation and representation of memory and time
How do you select the subjects for your work?
The majority of my reference material is sourced from personal archives, these images present themselves when needed. As I construct an idea and composition instinct usually informs me on what the reference is lacking, it could be a tone, form or an addition to a suggested narrative, some paintings come intuitively while others are more thematic, these theme based bodies of work require a more specific and considered approach where the content is more directly sort after.
You mentioned to me once before that your work is, to a degree, about identity, whether your own or that of society. Is this still the case?
(I'm thinking here about the raceday works (Giddy Up) (Pictured above) you did, are they about our cultural identity in Australia?)
The "raceday" works on paper, which made up the 2015 series Giddy Up, were a direct response to my exposure to the underbelly of Australian Culture. I wanted those works to challenge what it is to be a young male living in a semi-rural Australian town. The contrast between my interests and the common white male participating in such events gives me the pleasure of objectively viewing from the outside, while being subjectively involved. Yet in a way these paintings are dealing with my own personal identity as I question why I don't fit within the common frame work of the dominant semi-rural culture and why I feel detached from it. Also from a aesthetic point of view the sense of colour, movement, and the dynamism of a galloping horse and its jockey creates interesting contradictions.
You say that you find exposure to the underbelly of Australian culture attractive. Do you think that your detachment from the rituals of semi-rural normality has something to do with irony? Or is it more to do with figuring out who you are by examining what you're not?
I do feel there is a level of irony and a small amount of humour within the Giddy Up series, I don't think it generally appears in all of my work, but I'm open to letting social critique or puns in to break things up a bit. As I mentioned earlier the visual aesthetics of the image contrasted with a vulgar familiarity really interest me, I think those contradictions work well with humour and despair also.
My interest towards these cliché Australian activities is something I am still coming to terms with. Looking at a rodeo for example seems like a perfect cliché of Australian masculinity and at one point or another was an accurate summary of a general white male's interest, though as time progresses these activities fade as a distinct summary of the "outback" while becoming a neglected sub-culture, an event that only a small number of the population participate in. Last year I focused a large amount of time in visiting drag racing events at an unused local air strip. I felt so out of place observing the smoke spew from the back of a young man's VR Holden Commodore, as crowds cheered from the sideline there was a vast array of testosterone and masculinity expressed by the drivers and their machines. The detachment I felt from participating in a situation I would usually not be exposed to is what's so fascinating, its completely foreign.
Why do you make art?
At the risk of sounding romantic, I am truly appreciative of the fact that mark-making alone keeps me motivated and passionate for each day, people go their whole lives without having something they can truly depend upon. I honestly couldn't tell you why I have to do it, its a personal experience, which will continue to thrive whether anyone is interested or not. Its a means of expression, its a response to my own mortality.
Do you have any words of wisdom for anyone aspiring to get into a creative practice?
I suppose my bit of advice would be to just commit yourself to your given interest, really invest time. Never mind that natural talent bullshit, it doesn't exist. It all comes down to a passion for what your doing and giving the time to let your skills and knowledge materialise. The beautiful thing about any creative avenue is that you can never know too much.