History of Art- Cambridge University Fine Art- LMU
If you're an artist, what kind of art do you make?
Tom de Freston. I am currently Artist in Residence at ther Leys, having previoulsy held the Levy PLumb Residency at Christ's College, Cambridge. I lecture and supervise part time in the History of Art faculty, Cambridge University. I read History of Art at Cambridge Unviersity and Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University.
About my artwork
I am a contemporary History Painter.
I present multiple figures in spaces of tension, normally depicting scenes of excessive drama. The images are constructed with a multiplicity of painterly approaches.
My work draws from the grand Art Historical traditions of Classical Antiquity, the Italian Renaissance, the French Academy and Modernism. My treatment of these periods is varied. One aspect I focus upon is the appropriation of past imagery which is then devoured and excreted in a variety of forms. These ‘zombie’ images are sometimes in homage, sometimes bastardised, and at other times are utilised for their figural mechanics and used as composite forms.
Tableaus are often arranged, occasionally with performance elements, in order to filter the references through a photographic and theatrical source. History becomes the source and often the subject, but always with an eye to making images which have a strong aesthetic. The images seek to make content relevant and relatable to contemporary art and society.
Recurring themes in the work are the fall, masculinity, martyrdom, eroticism, desire and failure. A specifically painterly form of tragedy is searched for, with a particular focus on the roles of wit and melodrama. In contrast to this cynicism there exists another strand of my work that evokes a more melancholic, spiritual and romantic air.
Beyond reference, Art Historical methodologies are key to the development of my practise. The post medium condition, post structural methodologies and post Greenbergian thought all feed my fascination with the construction and interpretation of meaning in imagery.
I hold a stubborn belief that there are continuous painterly histories, which should not be taken as absolute values, but instead as constant points to associate relative value to. Two-foldness, the moment in flux, paint and repetitive compositional strategies are all properties which seem to highlight the historical bastardisations of writers such as Vasari and Greenberg.
My paintings don’t search for a narrative clarity but something more akin to algebra or poetry; fragmented bodies that evoke an essence rather than a coherent whole. Often the failure of the pictorial sign to register the seemingly intended meaning becomes the root of its actual meaning. Tragedy in painting is the play between the construction of an implied ideal and the realisation of its falseness.
Artists I like
Giorgione, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Carravagio, David, Goya, Ingres, Gericault, Delacroix, Manet, Cezanne, Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Francis Bacon, Tapies, Burri, Andreas Serrano, Howard Hodgkin, Matthias Weischer, Neo Rausch, Peter Doig, Daniel Richter, Brian Graham, Arturo Herrera, Callum Innes, Gaston Orellana
I love music. Joy Division, Gang of Four and the Fall are current favourites. As is Bach, particuarly some of his Cantatas. I was a brit pop fanatic so many of those bands still have a place in my heart in terms of nostalgia. Radiohead, and their numerous creative offsprings are possibly my favourite band of all time. A recent soul and another dub reggae compilation albums have been on repeat a lot in my car. Unkle, Leftfield, D.J Shadow and James Lavelle provide a good synopsis of the kind of dance based music I like.
Keats, Ted Hughes and Jacob Polley are amoung my favourites poets.
I was recently utterly captivated by a performance of King Lear and can't wait to see Hamlet in the summer.
When I go on walks I love them, but I avoid them.
Cricket, football and Rugby are major passions, with the first being the primary choice in terms of playing.
What exhibitions are good at the moment?
Contemporary Indian Art at the Saatchi