Figuratively Speaking – painter Alex Jabore in the Spotlight
In this Spotlight Interview, painter Alex Jabore gives us an insight into her inspirations and artistic process – see more of her work at alexjaborepaintings.com. You can also catch her work until the 27th July at the Rose Theatre in Kingston – see the events listing here!
Being an artist
Please give us a few words of introduction about yourself
I’m a London-based practicing artist, hoping to truly establish myself in the coming years. I grew up in Italy and from the very start I wanted to be a painter. I cried and emotionally blackmailed my mother into buying me a book on Monet when I was seven, and artists like Botticelli and Manet enchanted me. I love art that shows the painters’ joy of life, and the world around them.
When did you decide to pursue art as a career?
There was a brief moment in high school where I thought of becoming an historian but there was only one thing I knew I could do, and given a lot of hard work do very well. I still have a long way to go, technically as well conceptually. I want to find a voice as strong as Picasso’s, Cezanne’s, Hopper’s and really say something.
What training did you have?
I studied at Falmouth University in Cornwall.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
Last summer I entered the Peak District’s Artist of the Year Award and was fortunate enough to win. It was the first real acknowledgement of me as a painter. To cap it off I sold a painting, and had my first taste of been a professional artist, and been paid for the hundreds of hours I put into it.
What’s your favourite quote?
I think the one which I’ve repeated the most to myself, although I’m not completely sure who its by, is ‘if it looks like hard work your not working hard enough’ . Often, the paintings that really don’t work are the ones which I didn’t plan hard enough, didn’t prepare for, and have attempted to repair by over painting. A lot of prep equals easy painting and cleaner sharper works of art.
Who is your favourite artist?
Monet has always been the artist I go to, Cezanne someone I look to for mark making while Caravaggio is my tonal master. I don’t think I have an absolute favorite, or at least not a constant one. One month I’ll do nothing but read about Manet and the next its Lucien Freud.
What are you aiming for?
I would love to become a regularly selling artist, someone of standing in the figurative art world. I’m aware how hard the art world is, and how long this process takes so my immediate aim is to find a way of making a living which provides me enough time to paint as much as is humanly possible.
How will you get there?
I’ll get there by working a ridiculous amount, learning to publicize myself online, getting sales and entering as many competitions as possible no matter how many times I’m rejected. I need to become better at networking, and introducing myself to others as a professional artist. I want to meet other practitioners and learn from them.
Is anything holding you back?
I have no problem painting, if I’m struggling I paint through it. I guess the only thing that is holding me back, which is the same for most artists, is lack of finances. I sell the occasional piece, I sold one this week in fact, but the sales are still infrequent. I need to enter art fairs, find art galleries prepared to sell me and make myself into a businesswoman and not a disorganization scatty artist.
You and art
What feelings or reactions do you hope to arouse in people who view your work? Are you ever surprised by reactions that you get?
I often attempt tongue in cheek paintings, full of humour and the intimacy of every day situations. Sometimes this fails and they become a lot more serious than I meant them to be. The one that has had the most success is the painting ‘Taking Stock’. It depicts a large lady with a tape measure around her waist. She is breathing in as much as she could, the tape measure tight in her efforts to get a favorable reading. The effort and determination is clear on her face. I exhibited this piece at an art fair and I was amazed at the obvious reaction it had on people. Ladies in particular, of all sizes, would grin and laugh saying things like ‘I know what she’s doing’, ‘I’ve been there’, and ‘looks like me in the morning’. There was no mockery in their reaction, just a lot of empathy and amusement.
From start to finish, how long does it take for you to create your work?
This varies massively depending on the painting, size and aim of the piece. A small still life can take anything from an hour to several weeks while larger figurative paintings are slightly more extensive projects.
What music do you like to listen to when you work?
Mozart, Vivaldi and if I really need cheering up I admit to indulging in a little of Disney. Another confession, which I probably should reveal to possible customers, is that I like to listen to TV shows in the background. I sometimes work twelve hours in a day, and a TV show will help me through the slower hours and keep me going.
What are you working on next? Any future plans or projects in the pipeline that we should look out for?
I am currently exhibiting at the Rose Theatre, Kingston and have been working towards it over the last few months. Now that that is finished and I’ve finally got time to experiment a little. I want to work on my portraits. Portraiture is important in my practice and I want to free up my technique and mark making.
Being inspired by art
Who (living or dead) inspires you? and why?
I look up to so many artists, most of whom are dead but I think the person or persons who have inspired me the most recently were playing in the Wimbledon Final. Federer is widely thought of the best that has ever lived, and while I love tennis the actual sport is irrelevant. Watching these two players, gifted so heavily with natural talent, have to work so unbelievably hard to success taught me a lot. I have inherited some artistic skill off my parents, but to get anywhere in life I am going to have to work non-stop, with no excuses, and to an inch of my life. Nothing is due to me, and I’ll have to fight tooth and nail to establish myself.
What feelings, subjects or concepts inspire you as an artist?
I love the art that looks at the every day. To paint anything the artist needs to understand it, and to do this successfully they need to have lived it. This might not be the case for other artists but for me it’s imperative. I want to create a sense of intimacy, and tenderness in my work as well as humor. Most of all I want breadth in my work, I don’t want to send a single message I want to explore a range of subjects and themes reflecting what I’m seeing and thinking about at the time.
What is your favourite work that you’ve produced so far and why?
My most significant painting is ‘Reflections on a Folies Bergere’ and transcription of Manet’s ‘Bar at the Folies Bergere’ in the exact dimensions. Its a painting asking a very simple question- ‘is there a place for a figurative painter like me in the conceptual art world?’ and by the end of the painting I’d decided the answer was very much a ‘yes’. The colours are bright and vivid, and the whole painting works and stands as a work in its own right while reflecting large elements of Manet’s masterpiece.
an artist’s advice
For those thinking about turning a passion for art into a career, could you give any advice?
Paint, every hour you have spare work in your studio. Find a place you can set up and stay set up, make it near and convenient to get to. Don’t buy into pretentiousness. Make an online presence, network, and advertise. A lot of the stuff I learned after university is about selling, and finding a corner of the market which might have space for me. Find a job which will allows you as much time as possible to work, and doesn’t exhaust you.
Any tips on how to get your work seen and get the commissions coming in?
If anyone knows a fire proof way please tell me. I’ve sold a few on online websites and galleries but they do charge a lot of commission. Get in contact with newspapers and other ways of spreading word about your work. Basically show off in a systematic and varied manner. You Tube is a great tool for time delay videos, and these also allow people to access your work and really understand how much goes into each painting.