An Interview with the Painter Luke Waller at the Soho Revue Gallery, London.
Luke Waller and I first met in February at the Soho Revue Gallery on Greek Street for a tour of the series of paintings that he had on display. We had been introduced by a photographer that we had both worked with and I was thrilled, because I had heard a lot about his work with its almost photographic realism and strong sense of narrative. As he composes each painting, Luke pulls together found elements from film, television and fashion photography to create a new image through a curatorial and collage process. He uses these found fragments to create a vignette of a masked narrative to express scenarios or experiences from his own life, which immediately creates a dialogue with and engages the audience. Down the road from the Soho Revue Gallery we ventured for tea at Soho House, Dean Street and I went on to discover that as a restaurateur, model and well-established painter, Luke truly is a Renaissance man.
Reflecting the distortion of contemporary life, Luke records a kind of reality by painting a redefined visual autobiography, although there is certainly an air of mystery within his challenging work. Since graduating from his illustration degree at the London School of Communications Luke's past few years of solo exhibitions have taken him around the world from the well-respected House of Wolf, London to as far afield as RenArt Gallery, Istanbul. He has also exhibited his works in group shows right at the heart of London's emerging art scene, in hotspots such as Cob Studios & Gallery, Old Truman Brewery and Soho Revue Gallery. As his evocative paintings blend elements of both photography and fine art, they are some of the most interesting pieces of artwork that I have seen in London in the past few months - follow his Instagram 1uke_wa11er or check out www.luke-waller.com to see more.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?
At nursery school my parents were called in by a concerned teacher, because I was constantly painting the page black unlike all of the other children painting pretty pictures of their pets and alike. After a wary visit to the doctor it turned out that there was something wrong with my hearing and I was 70% deaf. Pablo Picasso had his blue period and I've had my black. My ears are fine now and I'm still using painting as an emotional response as to what's up.
What piece of your work would you like to be remembered for?
As always, the next one.
If you could be born in another period of history, when would it be?
I would have a brush at the 1920's.
Can you tell us about the process behind the making of your work?
I collage found images from television, fashion and film together to compose each piece before painting with acrylic paint on paper. Doing this I use a variety of techniques like dots, washes, finger-dabs, dirtying the page with dried paint etc...
How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
My nearest and dearest.
Do you have a favourite film or painting, which inspires you?
Not so much, song lyrics more so. In the final year of my illustration degree I started doing what I do by painting a series telling the story of a Tom Waits song called Frank’s Wild Years.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
What fictional character from literature or film would you like to meet?
Randle McMurphy from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
Do you believe that true creative expression can exist in the digital world?
Absolutely. The outcome of my artwork is painting, but I'm constantly using digital technology throughout the process when sourcing a variety of images to compose the piece, but also in terms of viewing my work from a different perspective every now and then whilst painting as I look through my phone camera's lens for example.
What do you wish every child were taught?
Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?
Regularly I’m afraid.
What is your favourite art gallery and why?
Being spoilt by the selection in London it's hard to pick one. So, it's the Serpentine Gallery for its bookshop, Dulwich Picture Gallery for the building itself and Tate Modern for the lot.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
The photographer Helmut Newton and I could have produced something pretty special.
What is your daily routine when working?
It doesn't happen daily, but with a good momentum I like to work in long stints. News over breakfast then emails, painting before lunch, paint then dinner and paint some more. I do work better at night, this seems to be my most productive time.
What has been your most inspiring travel experience?
I returned from a month in Bali last year with a series of paintings that were quite different to anything that I’d ever done before.
What advice would you give to a young person following in your footsteps as an artist?
Stick with it and make the most of your opportunities.
Do you find that London’s culture inspires or influences your art?
It sure does.
Why do you love what you do?
I’m very lucky to have this outlet.
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com