Helium London held an exclusive online launch for “spectacle” by Patrick Morales-lee, one of the most coveted pieces from our pavement lickers event.
We sat down with Whitstable-based artist Patrick Morales-lee for an exclusive 4 part Q&A.
In our first instalment, we talk about his fascination with ceremony & the attraction of belonging.
HL: Tell us what inspired spectacle? And why do you think it was one of the most sought-after pieces during the pavement lickers launch?
Patrick: My work explores belief & identity, so a lot of my inspiration comes from religious ceremonies, specifically transformation during baptism or communion. I call this ‘active belonging’. It is when people participate in something ceremonious in order to externally demonstrate their beliefs.
With ‘spectacle’, the spark for me was from ‘an old lady with a book’ by Rembrandt. In it, the woman wears a large heavy ruff. This idea that a heavy accessory around her neck, despite it being uncomfortable, is worn as a statement for wanting to feel acceptance or belonging, is most interesting to me. I wanted my work to have a quietness, a moment where the viewer could place their own emotion on to the work. I often get comments that my drawings connect people on a personal level with their own narratives. I can only assume ‘spectacle’ works on this level when people came to see the show.
For the second instalment of our Patrick Morales-lee Q&A, we talk about mark making, drawing instinctively & the perils of ruining hours of work when there is no “undo” button.
HL: We’re thrilled to launch your limited edition signed prints on the 5th December. Tell us Patrick, why pencil & charcoal as your preferred medium?
Patrick: I’ve always been comfortable drawing, it’s one of my earliest memories. When I moved into painting, I realised each piece was taking longer than I wanted. There is an immediacy with drawing so I decided to explore drawing as the base from which I could experiment.
I found by using a chemical spray, I could practically paint with charcoal. This sped up my practice considerably. I call this ‘active belonging’. It is when people participate in something ceremonious in order to externally demonstrate their beliefs.
HL: Yes, there is an energy in your work that reflects an element of speed, whilst being contemplative, too. That’s a tough balance to achieve, perhaps?
Patrick: This approach challenges me because it only gives me a couple of minutes to play with so my work becomes instinctive. Mark making this way is very rewarding. The process trains my eye to recognise what works by taking it to an interesting place, or ruin hours of work in just one wrong move. Such is the thrill!
It’s part 3 of our Patrick Morales-lee interview. This time we quiz him about how art has responded to Instagram’s ubiquitous presence.
HL: What do you think the significance of art plays today in our fragmented digitised culture. Are you a fan of how social media seems to pervade our modern day existence, for example?
Patrick: My opinion is quite divided. I mean, I’m a big Instagram user, I love stumbling across new art on it, going down the rabbit hole, following a person to see where it leads. It’s intoxicating. I’ve also made a number of interesting connections directly through Instagram. So as a tool, it’s great in that sense.
HL: Certainly, at Helium HQ, we love discovering unknown artists & how they hone their craft. It’s become a small part of how we research new artists, before anyone else spots them.
Patrick: Equally I don’t think it effects how art is bought in the long run. This idea that Instagram can help someone breakthrough in the same way myspace did for music. Of course there’s exceptions, but for every unique artist, there are thousands not making a meaningful impact.
HL: Yes, Instagram has democratised the creation & consumption of art. The challenge is to seek out hidden gems, something we did before social media existed! You mention myspace & music which is interesting as our new projects, broken records, involves 33 musicians collaborating with 33 artists to raise over £50,000 for the addiction recovery charity, music support. That’s a topic for another time though!
For part 4 of our Patrick Morales-lee Q&A, we ask him if he could meet one artist, who it would be & why.
Patrick: There are so many artists I obsess over, Rembrandt, Warhol, David Salle & Jenny Saville to name a few. To spend a day in their studio & watch them work would be fascinating. But equally, I would worry it would impact on how I work. I would constantly question my choices, my whole practice, even. If we take the artist in its broadest sense, I would love to spend time with the writer Charles Bukowski. I find his writing incredible; I also find the way he created his work, the solitude of his life, the bloody mindedness to just create & believe the work itself is enough. I love the fact he had no sense of over-intellectualising his work, it just spoke for itself.