London-based George Little gives us an insight into Art Brussels through the eyes of an artist. Art Report spoke with the emerging young tastemaker on his paintings shown at the Deweer Gallery booth, how his parents’ restaurant in Soho inspired his work and his plans for the future, including a group show at The Dot Project, London this May.
Art Report: What is your artistic background…how were you initially introduced to the world of art?
George Little: Academically, I studied painting at the Royal College of Art in London. But a bit of history of art reading and a very open art teacher pushed me in this direction. My family were not in art but were into art history and had their own creative life, but within the realms of hospitality.
The professional introduction came after featuring in Bloomberg New Contemporaries and then subsequently having my first solo show, Overdo at Ana Cristea Gallery, in Chelsea New York. It was a fortuitous and interesting learning curve.
Can you remember a specific work of art that really inspired you? The Uccello painting Battle of San Romano, sparked a strong spike in my interest at an early age, which I saw on childhood trips to Florence where my dad taught at a cookery school. The signposted perspective within the piece showed an investigative naivety that I could relate to, and the repetitive decorative surroundings seem to have a current resonance with present day abstraction. The discovery of a Kippenberger book in the last year of school may be a more contemporaneous answer. Other works that really influence my work were discovered later.
AR: How did the ‘restaurant setting’ seen in your work come to being?
GL: My parents used to own a restaurant in Soho where I spent a lot of my young years. The ‘restaurant’ became a logical setting and an earnest source material that I understood and could use to push a wider painterly investigative practice. The historical exoticism of European restaurant and cafe culture with its inter-relation with modernism is there. Its present position as modern tourist fodder makes for interesting problems and disparities of high and low culture. Having a subject basis means the work is free to probe aesthetically and conceptually.
AR: Where is home?
GL: Home is London and more specifically the Brixton area in south London. I also have the luxury of a eight minute cycle to my studio.
AR: What is the most exciting thing about Art Brussels – and what in your opinion makes it different from other fairs?
GL: This weekend was my first time in the city (let alone the fair), and not as a point of transit to the Belgian Deweer Gallery who represent me. So I was really excited in general about the trip. At the vernissage there was a busy affably social atmosphere with a general air of ‘catching up’. This not being anything new at fairs, I know. But the Belgian gallery circuit and art scene seems to be really integrated within wider contemporary culture, and hitting all the right marks. A supportive, nurturing environment for both artist and collector. This is something I feel I have with Deweer. And something that rubs off on the fair, removing the sterility that can often embrace them.
AR: Do you have a favorite booth?
GL: I enjoyed the Alain Biltereyst paintings at Brand New Gallery‘s booth–in particular the wall mural (with its slightly Daniel Buren or Gunther Forg aesthetic) alongside the subtle geometric abstraction of the paintings. Obviously, the Deweer booth. There are some great paintings by Thomas Kratz and Melissa Gordon that I felt a real affinity to.
AR: Why are Art Fairs important for you as an artist?
GL: They are a very modern beast. The normality of their position has taken a long time to settle and sit right with artists. In realistic terms they act as both a networking event and a catch-up. As an artist it is nice that you don’t have to be present at them, but all the interesting surrounding activity around the fair and the nearness to home made it a no-brainer.
AR: What else do you have planned for 2016?
GL: I am in an interesting painting show coming up in London at The Dot Project in May. And I have a couple of other projects to bite my teeth into–to be announced later–as well as starting to research for my next solo show at Deweer.
Subscribe to Art Report’s official newsletter for more stories you don’t want to miss.