An Interview with Daniel Rushforth – Brian Gibson

Artists and their art have always had the ability to change our perceptions about the world or worlds in which  we live . Equally artists and their work can reawaken thoughts and feelings that may have been pushed to one side in favour of a more dominant culture.  So its interesting that the work of Daniel’s Rushforth appears to be at odds with the teachings of contemporary art practice, favouring a more spiritual and visionary process. Openly acknowledging  the masters of the Renaissance, it is clear on viewing his work that he is no copy and paste artist in some high street gallery, his work is distinctive, authentic and stands on its own merit.

I had been meaning to interview Daniel some time ago but as we all know the Covid -19 pandemic came along and the day today aspect of so many peoples completely changed. For awhile time stood still, the streets were silent and we kept inside our own little bubble coping as best we could. Now, for most of us its a post lockdown period but this interview was conducted  socially distanced online .

BG: How have you been coping with the lockdown, has it changed your practice in any way?

DR: Being very comfortable with my own company, and after over a decade of full-time employment, it is a blessing to focus solely on my well-being and creativity. Time for extensive meditation, exercise and being in nature has really furthered my process and boosted my productivity.

Dedicating time to the practice makes a huge difference – I’ve realised that immersion is totally critical to producing my best work. After having one’s head completely absorbed in painting for an extensive amount of time, the entire visual field filters through the lens of the painter, and I wonder through the world thinking how would I paint all that I see?

Developing technique is a personal journey – you can find something unique to you. Pulling in all these different approaches, ideas and methods, allows one to keep working and learning, breaking down and building up, and eventually finding your own voice.

Communion  With Nature

BG: I’m familiar with seeing your work at numerous exhibitions throughout the region, has not being able show your work to a wider audience been frustrating and have you been able to show your work in other ways, such as online or selected studio visits?

DR: Due to the price of hiring spaces, solo exhibitions are a rare thing. High rent plus time off from employment to invigilate, promote and discuss means it’s not a realistic option at the moment. I tend to do as little as one a year and share the load with other artists. However, with the hollowing out of the high street, perhaps this will change, and it would be great to exhibit more frequently.

I miss the people and vibes at a private view, the conversations, and the familiar and diverse pillars and islands of the community. Online exhibitions are different. I cannot really get a feel for the art being shown, you can’t look at the artists face and discuss – it’s a bit like a formal scroll through of Instagram. The great thing about visual art is that you have to stand in front of it, in person, in the appropriate space to really appreciate what it is.

Therefore I don’t have any exhibitions planned, and won’t bother until we have come to our senses and done away with the overbearing government restrictions. Studio visits and lessons are something I intend to do in the future, made accessible on my web store.

Angel

BG: You’ve said that you are very much influenced by renaissance paintings, are there any painters from that period that you particularly admire and if so, why?

DR: El Greco comes to mind. His technique  was totally out of the norm and some of his works look contemporary. The way he painted faces, the expression, passion, sincerity and devotion they had, and the freedom with which he handled the paint is exquisite.

Hieronymus Bosch is another great influence. The epic and bizarre scenes he painted with such detail and care are some of the best artworks ever created in terms of beauty, meaning, depth, technique, humour, feeling and much more. Such a rich and vibrant universe leaps out of these pictures, stimulating our imaginations in curious ways. Coming forth from over 500 years ago, they look as fresh as ever.

Old masters are timelessly inspiring examples for artists to look at – the scale and scope of what they did, the sincerity and hard work put into their creation, and their discipline, dedication and focus. These people lived in conditions and bared hardships unimaginable, and achieved pinnacles of creativity, truth and beauty rarely touched today despite the luxury we live in – not even imagined by the greatest emperors of antiquity. We today have such a privilege to be creating in the way that we do – something most of our ancestors couldn’t have dreamed of, and we must make the most of it.

BG: Although you acknowledge that you are influenced by Renaissance painting, would you say that your works deal with contemporary issues rather than say biblical or mythical themes?

DR: Classical themes are timeless, and therefore of critical importance and highly applicable to the present. There is an abundance of deep and profound knowledge from the past – from all cultures who made sacred art, and it is this kind of ‘archaic revival’ that I want to seek out. We have lost our grand narratives, and this is having a divisive effect on society. People are breaking apart, we are fractured and need new myths, or the rebirth of the old ones to unify us.

Contemporary art is saturated with political agenda, and I find this distasteful as art is one of the portals through which we can escape and transcend the constant assault of media. The over-politicisation of art feels like a degradation, a cheapening… it’s boring and totally one sided. Art is turned upside down and weaponised – used as a tool of division, virtue signalling and goal scoring. And while the rare artist can pull off a tasteful political artwork, usually the quality of the artwork is sacrificed to agenda, and any kind of profundity or wonder or ambiguity is stamped out by ideology. It rarely changes anyone’s mind and instead entrenches estranged views even more deeply. Anyone can ‘orange man bad’ and get a round of applause – it’s kicking at an open goal.

Spiritual, philosophical and mystical themes hold deep and important knowledge for working on the only thing you can really change – yourself. This has been forgotten about today, but I believe we are witnessing a rebirth.

 

Tsunami

BG: What is the process in creating your work, do you have a pre-planned notion of what a finished piece will look like or is it something that starts with a seed of an idea which then evolves?

DR: Being very comfortable with my own company, and after over a decade of full-time employment, it is a blessing to focus solely on my well-being and creativity. Time for extensive meditation, exercise and being in nature has really furthered my process and boosted my productivity.

Dedicating time to the practice makes a huge difference – I’ve realised tng very chat immersion is totally critical to producing my best work. After having one’s head completely absorbed in painting for an extensive amount of time, the entire visual field filters through the lens of the painter, and I wonder through the world thinking how would I paint all that I see?

Developing technique is a personal journey – you can find something unique to you. Pulling in all these different approaches, ideas and methods, allows one to keep working and learning, breaking down and building up, and eventually finding your own voice.

BG: I’m familiar with seeing your work at numerous exhibitions throughout the region, has not being able show your work to a wider audience been frustrating and have you been able to show your work in other ways, such as online or selected studio visits?

DR: Due to the price of hiring spaces, solo exhibitions are a rare thing. High rent plus time off from employment to invigilate, promote and discuss means it’s not a realistic option at the moment. I tend to do as little as one a year and share the load with other artists. However, with the hollowing out of the high street, perhaps this will change, and it would be great to exhibit more frequently.

I miss the people and vibes at a private view, the conversations, and the familiar and diverse pillars and islands of the community. Online exhibitions are different. I cannot really get a feel for the art being shown, you can’t look at the artists face and discuss – it’s a bit like a formal scroll through of Instagram. The great thing about visual art is that you have to stand in front of it, in person, in the appropriate space to really appreciate what it is.

Therefore I don’t have any exhibitons planned, and won’t bother until we have come to our sences and done away with the overbearing government restrictions. Studio visits and lessons are something I intend to do in the future, made accessible on my web store.

BG: You’ve said that you are very much influenced by renaissance paintings, are there any painters from that period that you particularly admire and if so, why?

DR: El Greco comes to mind. His technique was totally out of the norm and some of his works look contemporary. The way he painted faces, the expression, passion, sincerity and devotion they had, and the freedom with which he handled the paint is exquisite.

Hieronymus Bosch is another great influence. The epic and bizarre scenes he painted with such detail and care are some of the best artworks ever created in terms of beauty, meaning, depth, technique, humour, feeling and much more. Such a rich and vibrant universe leaps out of these pictures, stimulating our imaginations in curious ways. Coming forth from over 500 years ago, they look as fresh as ever.

Old masters are timelessly inspiring examples for artists to look at – the scale and scope of what they did, the sincerity and hard work put into their creation, and their discipline, dedication and focus. These people lived in conditions and bared hardships unimaginable, and achieved pinnacles of creativity, truth and beauty rarely touched today despite the luxury we live in – not even imagined by the greatest emperors of antiquity. We today have such a privilege to be creating in the way that we do – something most of our ancestors couldn’t have dreamed of, and we must make the most of it.

Dex Ivdex Mevs 

BG: Although you acknowledge that you are influenced by Renaissance painting, would you say that your works deal with contemporary issues rather than say biblical or mythical themes?

DR: Classical themes are timeless, and therefore of critical importance and highly applicable to the present. There is an abundance of deep and profound knowledge from the past – from all cultures who made sacred art, and it is this kind of ‘archaic revival’ that I want to seek out. We have lost our grand narratives, and this is having a divisive effect on society. People are breaking apart, we are fractured and need new myths, or the rebirth of the old ones to unify us.

Contemporary art is saturated with political agenda, and I find this distasteful as art is one of the portals through which we can escape and transcend the constant assault of media. The over-politicisation of art feels like a degradation, a cheapening… it’s boring and totally one sided. Art is turned upside down and weaponised – used as a tool of division, virtue signalling and goal scoring. And while the rare artist can pull off a tasteful political artwork, usually the quality of the artwork is sacrificed to agenda, and any kind of profundity or wonder or ambiguity is stamped out by ideology. It rarely changes anyone’s mind and instead entrenches estranged views even more deeply. Anyone can ‘orange man bad’ and get a round of applause – it’s kicking at an open goal.

Spiritual, philosophical and mystical themes hold deep and important knowledge for working on the only thing you can really change – yourself. This has been forgotten about today, but I believe we are witnessing a rebirth.

BG: What is the process in creating your work, do you have a pre-planned notion of what a finished piece will look like or is it something that starts with a seed of an idea which then evolves?

DR: Every painting is different and rarely are they planned out, although sketchbooks filled with an abundance of potential paintings lurk in dark corners. There is a surplus of ideas popping in and out from wherever they come from – sometimes it’s a glimpse, a silver thread that has to be tugged and teased out, other times it’s a fully formed idea arriving fleshed out and finished –the execution rarely holds up to the mental image. Full manifestation in paint takes a long time – meaning I have to be selective and honest about the compositions I want to truly bring forth. This is a great challenge.

Often work starts and I wait to see what arrives, what is given to me. I will work abstract and then pick out forms later. This becomes a kind of sketch, a framework, an armature to hang things off. Once this is clear, the painting is built up on top – layer by layer using acrylics – as they dry rapidly. It is a process of constant refinement, much alike the way we refine our own spirits as we age and learn. This ‘going over’ allows new forms to emerge organically and unexpectedly. I like to get out of the way as much as possible.

BG: As well as Renaissance painters, which other artists do you admire?

DR: I am captivated by the works of Odilon Redon, who I consider the equal to the genius of Van Gogh. His use of colour is visionary in a psychedelic way, the grace with which he draws and paints the human form is gentle and strong. His themes are surreal and unusual and touch my sense of fear and wonder deeply.

William Blake is another big influence. Again, the divine imagination was clearly coming through Blake as he worked, and he can easily be considered a true visionary. The idea that these pictures were made before electric lights is astounding. It is terribly sad that Blake was not really appreciated in his lifetime, and many of his copper plates even being melted down.

From the moment of discovering H.R Giger as a teen, I was entranced by the dark hell-scapes he produced, amazed by the vivid and macabre imagery. The shock was certainly a factor, being a good little christian boy I had never seen anything like this before!

Psyclopse

BG: The term Visionary Art is, I would say, pretty difficult to define, considering the range of artwork that it encompasses but would you consider yourself as a visionary painter?

DR: Yes, I paint visions from the imagination, and I think visionary art is very marginalised by the contemporary art scene, especially in the UK where an underlying conservatism steers people away from this kind of high weirdness. I really think visionary art is the cutting edge of visual, non-digitalised art – it is really dealing with technique, psychology, profound numinous and religious psychedelic experiences. Frontiers unexplored by most people today.

I’d say real categorisation is difficult when it comes to the range of art I produce, and it’s really just a formality that I don’t think is particularly important. Ultimately, it’s a shame that putting artist’s in boxes seems so important to curators and galleries, forcing artists to stay in one ‘style’ which prevents development in favour of making money. It’s against the spirit of creativity.

BG: What are you working on at the moment?

DR A painting of a Venus-like figure is in the works. The divine feminine is of great importance at this moment, and there has been a huge subjugation of it by the toxic masculine and hysterical feminine. Goddess energy resides in every human heart, and it is fierce, but nurturing. She blesses but will destroy mercilessly if provoked.

Moving into the sculptural realm is another venture of mine. Creating small shrines, church like objects that can be hung on walls, painted abstractly, and adorned with objects that might hold personal or sentimental value. I enjoy the contrast of freer more colourful work, with the detailed concentration of figuration.

Also, in the works are a series of smaller paintings on various themes from alchemy to astrology, to do with our hands and other parts of our anatomy, and the importance of them. It’s a wonderful place for experiments, where different ideas are mixed and mingled.

BG: As Lockdown measures start to ease off do you have any plans to show your work in the near future?

DR: There is a worry that heavy-handed restrictions means real exhibition openings might be a thing of the past. It may be too early to say, but we don’t really know what’s going on, and I feel like the population is being groomed for real oppression.

This is upsetting, as art is now more important than ever in its role in inspiring the human spirit. A whole new show of unseen artworks will be ready to go pretty soon, and a whole new scene of underground art is bubbling under the surface, ready to erupt. I really hope we can do away with the terror that has infected society and imprisoned human warmth and dignity.

BG: As you are unable to currently exhibit your work can people see work online, and are they able to buy?

DR: Yes – I have a dedicated page on Instagram where I post often and share different snippets of my process, it is called daniel_rushforth. I have also just opened my new web store that has original artworks, prints, abstracts, merchandise, even some shoes on it. There is new work going on there every day, and much of it is affordable, even for originals, as I believe everyone should be able to get some decent art on their walls.

BG: Now that social distancing measures are relaxing will people be able to visit your studio by appointment to see your work?

DR: I would love to encourage this. With the current climate having individual artists open up their studio spaces seems like a great way forwards for sharing and showing artwork, networking and idea sharing.

There is a section on my web store where people can arrange visits. You can find it my site here https://delf-centauri-emporium.myshopify.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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