When I first came across Joseph Loughborough‘s work, I spent quite a bit of time looking at his portfolio. At first, I was a little jarred by the eerie nature of his vision, depicting lonely characters in black & white, often emaciated macabre figures with a look of near death in their eyes. Or maybe they had no eyes at all, like ghosts in the night. But I kept going back to it, more intrigued, and what was once a sense of discomfort for me turned into a kind of raw beauty, and I appreciate his work more every time I look at it. So much so that I had to learn more about what makes the man tick.
Despite Joseph’s draw to the darker side, which he claims resonates more with his creative frequency, he talks about his life as an artist, which includes beer, skating and street art. He also cites effigies and exorcisms, FYI. Have a look at the interview:
LF: You have a solo show “Deciphering the Ash of Effigies” that is currently showing at Anno Domini Gallery in San José. Is this your first solo show in the U.S.?
JL: This is my first show in the States, and my third solo show. The last two have been in London and Brighton in the UK where my work has a little more of a following. To be honest I was quite anxious as to how my work would be received here! It seems my mind was put at rest after the vernissage. It was great to meet so many enthusiastic people and so many characters! I have to commend the guys at Anno Domini for treating me so well over my stay.
LF: “Deciphering the Ash of Effigies” is quite a pointed title. What does it mean to this particular body of work?
JL: In fact, I wanted the title to have multiple interpretations. To begin with, I made an analogy between the figures I express and what an effigy is. An effigy is the semblance of a person or character, perhaps political, religious even artistic. Afterwards, I liked the idea that an effigy could be a personification of a situation or an emotion. This allows the title to be read in many ways. I also enjoyed the connotation with mysticism and the suggestion that the ashes of these concepts could be read like tea leaves. Likewise with the artworks.
LF: Expressionism is apparent in your work, but where does the exorcism come in for you? And exorcism of what?
JL: Haha… skeletons in closets… or perhaps just utilizing the various emotions we encounter and harbor during our everyday experience.
LF: Why so dark, why such a nihilist approach? Why not rainbows and unicorns?
JL: Dark… yes. But only subjectively. Nihilism delineates everything to nothing. A nihilistic approach to creativity is contradictory to its nature. However, I would hope that my work includes an observation of Nihilism and the philosophy which surrounds it. I have always been drawn to work of a more morose nature. It resonates with my interests and creative frequency! I guess that’s why my work is considered darker.
LF: Where does your philosophy background come from?
JL: Beer, books and watching the world go by.
LF: Despite your characters’ innate loneliness and their sense of struggle, I feel your work to be quite emotive, striking and beautiful. Do you get similar responses from your viewers?
JL: Quite often I find that the more people look at the work the more they appreciate it. At the last opening I was speaking to someone who initially found the work particularly cold and ‘gothy,’ as they put it, but after looking around a while came back and chatted to me with a completely refreshed attitude. Maybe it was the wine…
LF: You’re work is strictly black & white lately, I am guessing charcoal. Any future plans to work with color?
JL: At the moment I’m really enjoying just the black and white stuff. Every thing is charcoal on white paper. I can get into the piece fast and expressively without having to consider anything else. It seems more fluid to me. Perhaps a little color with some pastel here and there. I will defiantly work with more color again at some point though.
LF: You cited a profound interest in celebrated artists Egon Schiele, Frank Auerbach, Käthe Kollwitz and Alberto Giacometti. Any modern day artists that currently excite you?
JL: Too many! Umm… Ken Currie! Also lots of great artists in the French ‘Neo expressionist’ scene. Every one talks about the death of street art but i actually think its really strong with so many really creative people! Just finished an interesting skate project with the ‘Low Bros’ here in Berlin. Keep an eye out for more on that!
LF: What’s a day in the life of Joseph Loughborough?
JL: Get up late. Internet injection. Coffee. Metro. Studio. Metro. Coffee. Skateboarding. Beer. Food sometimes too.
LF: What gets you off, literally or figuratively?
JL: The back of necks…? Is that weird? The rest will have to be discussed at the pub.
LF: How FAST do you live?
JL: Roughly… a day per day.
All photos and artwork courtesy of Joseph Loughborough.