10Q&A with Erin Lawlor

The images in this 10Q&A are taken from Erin's first Museum exhibition PAINT.NOW at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen.

From the catalog :

Erin Lawlor (1969 ­ ) paints oil paintings using the ”wet­on­wet” technique, also called alla prima. Wet­on­wet is oil painting which is done without underpainting or intermediate drying. Lawlor’s paintings are created through a demanding physical process where the painter stands and the canvas is on the floor. With a large broom­like brush the paint is drawn across the surface in several layers, the process permitting the paint to ”find its own paths” on the canvas, flowing freely to the side, up, down and diagonally. It is thus the material itself which shapes the motif, which is composed of only pigments, brushstrokes and paints.

PAINT.NOW presents an example of oil painting today, and is a supplement to the exhibition PAINT which displays nine of the Glyptotek’s French masterpieces from the 19th century. These paintings are exhibited without their frames, where, instead, the exposed edges of the canvas invite a new perspective on technique and painting.

Erin Lawlor lived and worked in France from 1987 to 2012. Currently she lives and works in London. Recently she has had solo exhibitions at the George Lawson Gallery, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Gray Contemporary in Houston, Texas and at Galerie Klaus Braun, Stuttgart Germany.

- Line Clausen Pedersen, Curator.


YG : When did you first knew you wanted to be a painter?

EL : I drew and painted, and took pleasure in it, from my earliest childhood. But I was also a voracious reader and writer ­ it was after a few years in France, when I had the sense of being caught between two languages in both my life and my writing, that the impulse to paint began to come to the fore again, perhaps as a sidestep to that issue. I was also studying Art History at university in Paris at the time, and the more I looked at painting, the more frustrated I was not to be doing!


YG : what were your recent painter ‘happy moments’?

EL : So many... they occur, however briefly, every day in the studio. That is, after all what it is about. Those moments of forgetting oneself entirely, being absolutely caught up with and engaged in what is happening on the canvas. Otherwise ­ I have just been back to the Glytpotek to see the exhibition there with my sister for the first time since the opening, and it was a wonderful sensation to see the work, my work, in that context, but with a little more distance (and a little less stress!). And truly wonderful to see the response to the work there ­ the fact of that dialogue in itself, with the museum, and particularly Line Clausen Pedersen, the curator of both my exhibition and the ‘Paint’ show of French Masters that it is concurrent to, has been extraordinary; it has also been a pleasure and surprise to have had such lengthy conversations with others at the museum, visitors and spectators but also other museum personnel, including many of the guards, who seem moved by the work.


YG : What impact did your family life had on your work (parents, partners, kids)?

EL : I grew up in a household where painting, and art, were certainly both present and encouraged ­ on my mother’s side there have been generations of very proficient painters; but where paradoxically perhaps it was not considered as something you did as a career really. And I was academic, so that was certainly encouraged more in school (and society in general), as a direction to take...But it took me a long time to have the confidence to define myself as a painter. My ex­husband’s parents had both been painters, so he was familiar with some of the dynamic involved, but having children, the whole ‘pram­in­the­hallway’ thing, is a reality. There’s an incessant juggling of time and energy on all fronts, the constant sense of never doing enough all round ­ but I also think that, beyond it being so obviously enriching, it also actually taught me to use my time better ­you’re very aware of how precious a commodity that is, when you can finally get to the studio! It created a discipline, and a work ethic. My children are grown­up now, so it’s less of a balancing act. And my daughter is currently studying drama at Goldsmith’s, so it seems I haven’t managed to totally put them off the creative lifestyle.


YG : Looking back, what were your biggest challenges to get where you are today, and how did you overcome them?

EL : As I said, the struggles with time and energy, having a family, are a reality. The constant juggling, doing other jobs to pay the bills on occasion too...And yet, it’s just not something I’ve ever really questioned. There have of course been struggles, at times in the studio, particularly around 2000­2003, when I was shifting from figurative work to more abstract, and feeling very lost as to where I was going, and whether I even had anything left to say. It was frightening. But the only way to overcome any of it is to work through it. I think it was Georgia O’Keeffe who said she’d been terrified all her life but never let it stop her from doing anything. The main struggle, probably, is doubt, and self­doubt, but I think that’s part and parcel of the creative process. But really ­ my biggest challenges, struggles in life have been outside the studio, on a personal level and what life throws at you ­ painting has always been my go-to place, with its own internal logic and pleasures. Challenging, yes, but in a positive way.


YG : What are your current/future projects in or outside the studio?

EL : It’s been a slightly crazy year or two, even for me ­ moving countries, solo shows last year at the George Lawson Gallery in San Francisco, and at Galleri Klaus Braun in Stuttgart, a number of group shows, as well as the shows I’ve curated, with Look& Listen in St. Chamas, with Andrey Volkov in Moscow, at RaumX in London with Martina Geccelli...and now the Glyptotek exhibition, which I’ve been working on flat­out for some months. Right now, I’m trying to actually just take a step back and both take stock and enjoy the moment! Something that’s traditionally hard for me, as I’m an obsessive worker. That said, I am lucky enough to have a wonderful and large studio space that I’m subletting at the moment, so I’ll be using the time I have left there to carry on working on a larger scale, which I’ve been enjoying, physically gruelling as it is.

YG : Can you share about your practice main choices regarding color-­size­-form ?

EL : In terms of the work as it is today, after twenty­five years of painting, I’d be hard­pressed to justify with rapidity the choices of either colour or form, in that they have resulted from so many micro­decisions along the way, at times a paring down, at others an opening up and exploration of what have gradually imposed themselves as essential to me...brush­mark and form are very much one in my work. There is currently an opening up of colour, and more complex compositions, quite simply due to a growing confidence in my use of paint as a language. And these in turn perhaps allow more narrative to creep in. But it remains an abstract narrative. As for size ­ I enjoy working in all sizes, small, medium and large, and switch between them regularly, which is perhaps unusual. Working large, there are, however, quite simply practical constraints, both of studio size (always a problem in London, as in most big cities!) and my own physical limits ­ working on the ground, the reach of my own body, and arm, are a factor.

YG : Can you elaborate on how social media influences your work?

EL : I’m not sure I would say that social media per se influences my work in the studio. I have always looked at other people’s work constantly ­ as I said, I studied art history, and for the first years I was painting I hung on to my student card and would constantly head over to the Louvre to see Rembrandt’s beef carcass or to the Pompidou Center, to get my fix there.

Social media has of course been wonderful in terms of seeing so much of other artists work, direct from their studios, and discovering so much — there have also been a number of very real friendships and dialogues (too many to name here! but yourself included) that have come out of it...certainly when I was in France in particular, and in a context that was largely dismissive of, if not overtly hostile to, painting as a medium, it was a relief to find that there were like­minded people out there in other places ­ that painting as a tradition was still going strong, particularly in the US.

I was more surprised when these dialogues evolved into actual work opportunities, in terms of exhibitions, gallery representation and became a clearly useful vector in terms of my own curatorial experiences. It is a marvellous tool that we have at our disposition these days, in terms of seeing so much, but also showing the work, and getting feedback.

YG : what impact do you hope your paintings will have on the life of the people who choose to take them home?

EL : I would assume that for them to be taking them home it’s already had an impact! And yes, as personal as the work is, it is both a relief and hugely gratifying to find that what I do communicates at some level to others...I also feel very strongly about the very particular time of painting as a medium, the fact that they are not only immediate images, but rather reward a longer viewing, and that the way in which I use paint means that the colour and light are constantly shifting. They are also open images, I hope, with a variety of possible readings, depending on what the spectator brings to it. In that sense, I hope those who take them home have a continued pleasure in and dialogue with them.

YG : what advice can you give to a beginner painter?

EL : Someone (I think it was Michael Craig­Martin) recently said he told his students ­ ‘if you can do something else ­ do it’ ­probably very true, as it’s certainly not a career plan! The ones who stick the path are the ones who can’t not. Other than that, I’d say ­ look at other people’s work, talk to other artists. Above all ­ just paint. There is no substitute for getting into the studio and working. It takes time, and stubbornness, to learn your medium, and to find your voice.

YG : Anything else?

EL : I’d like to just reiterate how utterly privileged I feel to have had this opportunity to see my work in such a context at the Glyptotek. We all, in the studio, have those ongoing dialogues with our forbears, but it’s a leap to show in context with them, and to bring other people to perceive that ongoing thread of paint as a language through Manet and Courbet to today. I feel so very lucky!


"The B&W project" SLUICE art fair , London


The B&W Project - Instillation view at SLUICE

The B&W project poster in the middle of our special B&W co-edition made for the sluice fair , with Atelier Tchikebe, Marseille.

Lydia Rump going over the Sluice catalog designed by Daniel Devlin

we showed around 30 artists from the 100 in the THE B&W PUBLICATION

Rieko koga looking at the THE B&W PUBLICATION at the opening night

The SLUICE talks program was organized by Ben Street . The art world as an open system talk. participating : Erin Lawlor, Enrico Gomez and Yifat Gat.

Marble dust on windows by y.gat

"The quintessential installation of the fair curated by Charlie Levine - Sluice director, incorporated works by Yifat Gat (who also runs the Black & White Project) and Katherine Di Turi . Using marble dust, Gat created delicate emblems in the mullioned windows of the space that ranged around three sides of a large room. Di Turi installed small, black-and-white photographs of antique mirrors on the walls between some of the windows. In each instance, what was seen within the framed pieces of glass was doubled, and still images were paired with moving. Gat’s Marble dust overlaid views of central London, bringing what was outside of the room inside. The glass protecting Di Turi’s photographs also reflected figures as they moved about, placing the space of the room within the confines of her frames. experienced that last-noted installation with only a handful of other viewers present, and we all commented on the magic of its rough simplicity. That is, of course, what distinguishes Sluice from Frieze. At the former, roughness and simplicity are contrivances that provide a whiff of “authenticity,” when Frieze truly legitimizes what money can buy or is willing to endorse. Sluice offers the possibility of art actively transforming your time with it — no money required." Janet Tyson of Hyperallergic



"The Black and White Project" is an ongoing exploration that started as a curatorial post on the LOOK&LISTEN blog. In 2014 it was expanded into an exhibition at the L&L gallery, presenting works by 30 international artists.  This publication includes works by 100 artists from around the world. 

Organized by : Yifat Gat   /   Design : Studio Vincent Verdeile   /   Text : David Rhodes

Thank you : Lydia Rump, Erin lawlor, Julia Gat.





Participated artists : Andrew Bick, Don Voisine, Katherine Bradford, Matthew Deleget, Eve Aschheim, Alain Biltereyst, Amy Feldman, Rob de Oude, Ky Anderson, Tilman Hoepfl, Yevgeniya Baras, Erin Lawlor, Daniel Levine, Didier Petit, lydia rump, Brian Cypher, Claire collin collin, Tobias Wenzel, Laurence De Leersnyder, Ward Schumaker, Emily Berger, Guy Yanai, Gabriele Herzog, Karl Bielik, Armelle de Sainte Marie, Rene Korten, Corinne Laroche, Shawn Stipling, Rosaire Appel, Per Adolfsen, Mary Judge, Lina Jabbour, Andrea Heller, Jonathan Higgins, Heidi Pollard, Mikhail Lezin, Katrin Bremermann, Douglas Witmer, Dan Devening, Sharon Butler, Charles Williams, Playpaint, Sigrid Calon, Hadas Hasid, Elissa Marchal, John Tallman, Matthew Wong, Lael Marshall, Rieko Koga, Jérémie Delhome, Michael Voss, Jai Llewellyn, Meg Lipke, Richard van der Aa, Ekaterina Zhadina, Gary Petersen, Debra M Smith, Paul Pagk, Rachel Beach, Lisa Solomon, Carleen Zimbalatti, Andrew Seto, Yoav Efrati, Cecilia Vissers, David Rhodes, Clinton King, Justine Frischmann, Jaanika Peerna, Mark Wethli, Valerie Brennan, Paul Behnke, Marian Bijlenga, Pascale Hugonet, Vicki Sher, Pete Schulte, Benjamin Gardner, Daniel G. Hill, Michel Barjol, Catherine Haggarty, Vincent Hawkins, Ian White Williams, Katrina Blannin, Beatrice Beha, Sarajo Frieden, Anne Russinof, Matthew McLemore, Nelio, Brian Edmonds, Janet Meester, Hooper turner, Peter Shear, Cary Smith, Sara Bright, Laura Charlton, Perry Kopchak, Espen Erichsen, Kale Tunnessen, Jeremy Laffon, Yifat Gat, Judith Braun.

EMERGENCE , Paris , 2013.

Une proposition de Erin Lawlor, Katrin Bremermann et Yifat Gat. 
text by Françoise Caille
Hôtel de Sauroy 58, rue Charlot 75003 - Paris. 13-27 avril 2013.

Alain Biltereyst, Amy Feldman, Andrew Seto, Claire Chesnier, Clem Crosby, Don Voisine, Erin Lawlor, Marine Pagès, Eve Ascheim, Paul Pagk, Fieroza Doorsen, Radu Tuian, Katrin Bremermann, Richard van der Aa, Kevin Monot, Sharon Butler, Michael Voss & Yifat Gat.

concept utilisé pour évoquer l’interaction de systèmes simples suffisant en nombre pour faire apparaître un certain niveau de complexité qu’il était difficile d’appréhender par l’analyse de ces systèmes pris séparément. Les territoires de l’abstraction ici présentés relèvent aussi d’une géologie particulière des systèmes. Les artistes, chacun à leur manière, utilisent comme point de départ la ligne et son lacis de convergence, presque topographique, et ainsi tracent, voire balisent, l’étendue de ses champs d’influence. Les sculpteurs, quant à eux, élargissent le principe territorial commun au groupe et fonctionnent presque comme des rhizomes.

Une tension forme-fond  
Biltereyst • Voisine • Voss • Feldman

Alain Biltereyst, Don Voisine, Michael Voss et Amy Feldman travaillent le rapport entre le fond et la forme en partant de figures simples qu’ils assemblent pour créer des structures plus complexes. Chacun à leur manière, ils défient la tension qui pourrait les rendre statiques. Biltereyst, le plus proche d’une géométrie stricte, laisse entrevoir les couches inférieures de matière et crée ainsi des vibrations de surface et une texture sensible. Voisine explore aujourd’hui la dynamique des angles afin de modifier les perceptions d’échelle et créer un champ visuel animé. Voss emboîte ou superpose des formes dont les limites imprécises trahissent le geste. Feldman déforme la rectitude et laisse place aux coulures et aux taches. Effets de matière, incision des angles, trouées dans la couleur, contours tremblés, lignes déviées... livrent l’essence d’une écriture vibrante.



Une architecture sensible de la ligne  
Doorsen • Gat • Aschheim • Pagk • Tuian 

Fieroza Doorsen, Yifat Gat, Eve Ascheim, Paul Pagk et Radu Tuian travaillent
un langage de constructions imprécises. Chez Doorsen et Gat, la ligne et la répétition sont des éléments dominants et construisent des univers subtils et poétiques.

Aschheim, dans ses dessins, peintures
et photogrammes, brise et démultiplie le trait, l’enveloppe de lumière, l’efface, le réduit,
le prolonge, lui insuffle un rythme musical,
le transmue en lignes urbaines ou végétales. De même, Paul Pagk et Radu Tuian,
chacun à leur manière,
tourmentent la ligne et la forme
pour tendre vers un renouvellement
constant de figures et de signes.

Le support en jeu 
Bremermann • Butler • Monot  

Chez Katrin Bremermann, Sharon Butler et Kevin Monot, le support joue un rôle déterminant. Il fait l’objet d’une recherche ludique et fertile chez Bremermann. Il dévoile son envers chez Butler, qui montre les châssis, laisse les bords bruts et les agrafes visibles, et garde l’état froissé d’une toile de lin : l’ensemble produit un sentiment de work in progress, qui se livre dans toute sa dimension sensible et trouve un contrepoint dans une peinture bien ancrée. Les supports de Monot émergent d’une collecte personnelle d’objets qui ont déjà vécu, papiers, cartons, feuilles en tout genre, dont il exploite le grain, la trace, l’accident... Les ruptures, obliques, pans coupés, débordements de Bremermann et l’aspect brut et inachevé de Butler sont souvent compensés par une douceur des formes et des couleurs. Une tendresse identique se produit chez Monot par le recours à l’effacement, le regard sur la tache, la pliure, la rature,
une couleur effacée, tout un répertoire délicat de la fragilité.

Les champs de la structure  
Chesnier • Van der Aa • Pagès  

Jean-Michel Alberola dit des œuvres de Claire Chesnier : « Ce n’est pas un travail d’alchimiste, mais de maçon ou de moine. Le reste lui appartient. » Précisément, son travail est tendu entre des formes massives et angulaires, où même la courbe est architecturale, et un subtil travail à l’encre où s’opère ce qu’elle nomme un « revoilement ». Liées aussi à l’architecture, les sculptures de Richard van der Aa et de Marine Pagès sont distinctes. Le premier recourt à un minimalisme de la forme. La seconde crée des ossatures abstraites et complexes, de soutien, d’emboîtement ou d’empilement. Ses dessins peuvent être perçus comme des illustrations ou des sortes de plans qui interrogent la notion de territoire.


La peinture comme territoire  
Lawlor • Crosby • Seto

L’idée de territoire est évoquée par Erin Lawlor. Son travail au sol d’une matière très diluée
« pose la peinture dans une position de territoire et non de fenêtre. Un territoire qu’on s’approprie [...] qui se laboure et s’élabore à la fois1. »

Le travail de ces trois artistes
porte en commun la trace de l’instrument, l’épaisseur du trait, une gestuelle contrôlée source de tension et la construction d’un espace court induit par la couleur.
Nous sommes dans « la capture de l’animé »,
qui se fige à un instant donné, mais reste éminemment vivant.

1. Erin Lawlor, Anima, Espace Mezcla, Rouen, sept-nov 2012.
Cette exposition propose d’explorer
quelques lignes, en filigrane, de l’abstraction actuelle dans sa liberté renouvelée,
où ce qui émerge du processus de création,
en peinture, en dessin comme en sculpture, relève de l’anticipation autant que de la mémoire.

Contact presse :   Françoise Caille / francoisecaille@wanadoo.fr   
Contact rendez-vous : Katrin Bremermann : 06 15 59 13 74