Self Portrait 11am (ca.) by Samantha Caulfield
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Samantha and I’m a contemporary British artist who uses painting and installation to evaluate human existence through my offbeat social commentary.
Tell us about what you are currently working on…
I’m working on a painting inspired by authenticity and deception in light of how we present ourselves and understand others. To illustrate, if you look at a plastic bowl of fruit, it’s only the visual representation of the fruit that’s on display. It’s stripped of any other attribute in order to present an idea of perfection to the world. In this same way, people make a habit of accentuating their positives and hiding their negatives. It’s just the way society works, we don’t like to acknowledge real problems, we talk about the weather and other safe topics, highlighting what we believe to be good and glossing over the bad. This is all done for a reason but when does this become deception?
What’s your background? When did you start painting?
I was born in the north of England to British and Eastern European parents, but most of my childhood and teenage years were spent in Bournemouth on the south coast. I’ve been painting and drawing for as long as I can remember it was just something that I always did to express myself. Unexpectedly I sold my first painting at age 12. Prior to this I’d never really considered my ability so this gave me the confidence to take my art further.
In my early teenage years I was fascinated with common household fittings and our relationship with these objects. Creatively this led to experimentation with charcoal drawings and surreal sculpture rather than paint. It then wasn’t until my mid-teens that I felt confident with using paint to express my ideas and since then it has always been at the centre of my work. Later, inspired by music and its affect on our psychology, I went on to study music and performance art at University but it was my experiences in the real world when I left my course that galvanized my thinking and inspired me to leave everything and move to Berlin to take my art seriously.
Progress by Samantha Caulfield
Your work is packed with meaning and intention. Can you tell us a
little bit about what themes drives your work?
The overriding theme of my work is social control and the effect of such control on our identity as humans, in particular our behavior. My works seek to highlight the quirks of society and question what we take as granted for normal. Pressures to conform are applied from media, tradition, and friends for example and after an advent of time we can suddenly find ourselves living a life that is filled with hypocrisy, drama and confusion. I’m interested in how we have established what is right and wrong.
Which, do you feel is your most significant piece?
On a personal level, ‘Elephant in the Room’ is probably the most significant. It’s intro rather than extrospective and is derived from personal conflict with my heritage and a desire to fit in with society. It’s about passing judgment based on rules that have been handed down to us, social pressures and stigma. In particular this piece looks at the difference in cultural benchmarks and I’m again questioning what is right.
Had you experimented with other painting styles in the past?
I’ve experimented with a more abstract style in the past. I loved the energy and immediacy of abstract painting and it suited my communication at the time. But as my ideas evolved and I got better at controlling my medium, I found that expressing detail and mirroring reality on the canvas facilitated my intentions. My painting style will probably evolve further depending on how I look to articulate my ideas. Currently I’m experimenting with a mix of realist and expressionist elements so we’ll see what happens there!
Does your painting style aid in the delivery?
I hope so. I see a painting style as my language or tone so I use realism in my paintings to imply a sense of control and sterility. Monochrome characters are set against expansive backgrounds to create the idea of an illusion inside reality and the brighter colors facilitate a sense of humor, which offsets the darker content. The anonymity is deliberate because I think it’s harder to focus on an idea if an identifiable person is involved, I definitely want it to be personal to the viewer.
Elephant In The Room by Samantha Caulfield
Your installations seem as equally charged as your painting, full of
metaphor. However, they also seem more emotional. What’s behind them?
I feel more freedom with installations because there’s an element of segregation between the artist and the work that you don’t get with a painting. And because installations are oftentimes manipulations rather than depictions of the environment, I can utilize associations from emotionally loaded objects to further illustrate a point. So paradoxically I’m using the impersonal nature of installation to address my more personal thoughts.
Is there an artist that inspired your career?
I’ve definitely been inspired by artists such as Rosenquist, Ann Hamilton and Dorothea Tanning amongst others, but in terms of the greatest influence it was moving to Berlin and being part of such a free and creative environment that allowed me to move forward with my aspirations. It is a cliché but it does ring true.
What responses have you had to your work?
Positive so far, or at least to my face! It’s always interesting to find out which pieces people connect with the most.
You First by Samantha Caulfield
What do you dislike about the art world?
I think the industry that’s sprung up to take advantage of emerging artists is dislikeable. For example paid-for representation and steep entry prices for artists to exhibit leave you questioning motives but I guess their frequency is a sign of the economic times. Like Chris Dercon said, ‘social media has helped to democratise art’, and in conjunction with the myriad of new platforms out there it presents an opportunity for artists to get noticed now more than ever. You just have to get creative.
Everyone has a vice. Care to call yourself out?
Outside of being an artist, living in Berlin!
As fans of Samantha, what lies ahead for us?
Bigger and more daring work! I like to challenge myself, I’m never satisfied and I like to push boundaries. I want to engage with people on a wider sensory level so this will influence my work going forward. I’m currently planning a new set of works for 2012 and I have some exciting large-scale installations that I would love to develop but there is the challenge of execution and finance to address. In addition there will be more paintings and installations completed this year and plans to collaborate with other artists – so watch this space.
For Samantha’s latest work – check her out at www.samanthacaulfield.com