Excerpts from 'SITTING IN UNCERTAINTY: Interview with Felix Atkinson'

by Luca Young, creative director @ Channel Void

link to interview


LUCA YOUNG: Can you describe the emotion of your art?

FELIX ATKINSON: I often think about the song 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins. That floating guitar at the start seems to hold all the wistfulness, sadness, hope and redemption of nostalgia and memory that I try to get across in my own work. ‘1979’ puts together a cluster of images that was more about an undefined feeling than a message. And in my own paintings, perhaps I ask: “You know this feeling?”, hoping that the answer is “I do, tell me more.”

LY: How has creative expression allowed you to survive/thrive?

FA: In painting, you are constantly in a space of uncertainty. What painting has taught me is that rather than skill or technical ability, it is to respect that uncertainty because it is a place where you will learn and grow the most. When all your prospects go out the window and dwindle into nothing, there is a moment of great freedom. The freedom of starting again. That is when a new voice or a new language can form in the work. It is your voice that is more important than anything else in that moment.

Creative expression really has taught me so much about myself and about how to be. It allows me to practice being completely present. There’s no other way to describe the act of painting, and regardless of the outcome, good painting for me is when you are completely present with what you are doing and how you are feeling. To be patient and kind to yourself, and to listen to yourself. And that’s carried on into other aspects of my life.

LY: How do you get into your creative workflow?

FA: Creative inspiration is an interesting one. It’s a bit of a con if you ask me. I am reminded of that saying from Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.” And that’s honestly the only way I’ve managed to continue painting in the face of many things we all go through. You will go through a loss of self-belief, conviction that your self-expression is valid or worthwhile. There will be many crises of confidence. You forget to trust yourself. You tell yourself whatever you had is now gone, forgetting the simple-and-therefore-easy-to-forget truth that what you have is now something to be lost and found, but something that was and is always there. And it doesn’t go away, the signal just gets lost sometimes.

LY: What do you hope the observer/ listener absorbs from your art?

FA: What is important to me is to create paintings that are honest, intimate and deeply rooted in both the past and the present. I hope that there is a degree of sensitivity contained within the paintings that allows space for the viewer to connect on whatever terms they feel. I’ve had people come up and tell me that my paintings reminded them of a difficult time in their life, of mental health issues, the death of a love one, mourning of a childhood lost forever. And I’ve had people tell me those exact same paintings remind them of falling in love, feeling connected to others and to nature and to themselves. So that balance of light and dark co-existing in the paintings and therefore in ourselves, I really love.

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