Interview with Gary Sollars: Art – Caravans, Compositions and Dollman.
Written by Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney.
Photograph Tony Knox 2007 and c/o Artist.
Monday 09 July 2007.
Gary Sollars, is an internationally established and recognised painter, who work expands to more diverse and innovative creative explorations from his Fine Art practice in his extraordinary compositions to his more elaborate projects of new media, live art and installation.
His art is inspired and influenced by personal experience giving it a twist in concept from the autobiographical. He has exhibited internationally at many festival, biennials and events from London to Berlin and more. The visual dialogue in his art imbues a social commentary from his own immediate experience and contemporary issues. From the High Art of his paintings, such as short listed in the prestigious John Moores Painting Prize, to the eccentric performance initiatives of Dollman.
Sollars discusses in an interview with Gaynor Evelyn Sweeney his concepts and experiences that shape his art work.
Sweeney: When did you first become interest art and recognise yourself as an artist?
Sollars: As a child, I would design, make, paint, explore everything, as much as possible. I recognised myself as an artist in 1994, aged 36.
Sweeney: Can you explain your art work?
Sollars: My artwork began through expressing very personal feelings, as in the death of my partner. I was able to capture this in an image I believe to be my very first piece of art before it evolves into the style I do now. From the moment I created that work I knew it was possible to believe in myself and for others to take me seriously as an artist. Being gay has a massive influence on my imagery. The lack of queer emotion in art was my springboard and my initial interest as an artist, where both gay political and personal themes are combined into my work. My art continues to be motivated by personal experience. I look inside myself for inspiration through my emotions hoping to keep whatever uniqueness I have.
Sweeney: Your work has a strong interest in social commentary of your paintings. Can you explain how you develop an idea from onset to the end?
Sollars: My work includes worlds I inhabit, my interests lie in off beat places and people I have empathy with, larger than life characters from the ‘working classes’, pretentious actions and people are totally interesting to me. I begin with an idea or a feeling and from that an image develops. I usually wait months to test the strengths of the idea. Eventually the image will evolve and become stronger as a visualisation and when it is clear as rough sketch I will then sketch it onto a compositional grid. From this add tone and the art forms to realise the end piece. Obviously these are changeable, but are great guides to establish a strong base fir a work, which may take six months or more to produce.
Sweeney: You have explored different media, other than painting, including performance element through Dollman and related events. Can you explain more about your performance work, how this was first conceived and since developed?
Sollars: Dollman, as a performance event host, is loud and brash, clumsy, drunk and more and more out of control, as the vodka take effect throughout the evening. The events are extremely well planned musically and it is important all who attend feel safe, have fun and feel part of something verging on chaos. Dollman is derived from characters observed in Liverpool.
Sweeney: What artists have inspired you and why?
Sollars: I am inspired by anyone who truly believes in what they do. Francis Bacon, Hockney, Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Jan Van Eyck, Holbein, Peter Blake, Roger Van der Weyden, Rowan an Martins Laugh in, Andy Williams, Oliver, Sweet Charity, the sixties, the seventies, Discotecque, queers, gay pride marches, flowers, films, A Taste of Honey, the Knack, Up the Junction, Pulp Fiction, Pedro Almodovar and much more.
Sweeney: What subjects shape and influence your work and how?
Sollars: Influences are emotional responses to person situations around me. The top imagery hit list are men, because they are beautiful things. I may use parrots, ice-cream or cake. I like caravans and smoking in pubs now since banned and sunsets and plus a million other things.
Sweeney: What motivates you to create in this mode of expression and media in your various practices?
Sollars: Motivation is the fact that I cannot stop thing about creating stuff.
Sweeney: Do you use any other media as research source or in production of your art?
Sollars: I use anything that effect me. I have recently gone into digital video, installation and sculpture in my work. It is now 2007 and I am returning to my first practice of painting.
Sweeney: What do you plan for the future as an artist in your professional practice?
Sollars: My future plans are to do more video, a huge installation (if funding is available), entering some high profile exhibitions in 2008. Dollman Disco is to continue with more chaotic rawness maybe.
Sweeney: What are the positive and negative experiences of being an artist?
Sollars: The positive experiences about being an artist is that kind of give yourself permission to be a step away from medication at all times, to be different, to not work in a factory, to indulge in fantasies and create mental-ness that others sometime recognise as art. The negatives, would be great to sell work, financial uncertainty it the only negative.
Sweeney: What do you want to be remembered for?
Sollars: To be remembered for the creations I have not thought of yet!