I got off on the wrong foot with Justin Fitzpatrick. For some reason, my garbled mid-week brain mixed terms like Foxy Production, London, Los Angeles, Ireland and New York into one ball of confusion. Needless to say, I wasn’t too sure whether or not this interview would happen. Fortunately, here we are.
Justin Fitzpatrick is a London-based artist, born in Dublin in 1985, with an MA in Fine Art Painting from the Royal College of Art and graduated from St. Oswald’s School of Painting. In the space of a mere four years, Fitzpatrick’s work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp, the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) London, the Barbican Arts Trust and commercial venues in Vienna, Paris, New York, Stockholm, Brussels, Dusseldorf and London. We spoke about his latest exhibitions, the origins of his illuminated works, and how they are activated in a constant cycle of reveal-and-conceal.
I’ve just read your text ‘French Garden’ that was produced for your F-R-O-N-T-I-S-P-I-E-C-E exhibition at Seventeen Gallery in London. Does creating prose in this way figure prominently alongside your practice as a visual artist?
I think it’s very important for me to be writing whilst making work, though it is rarely the case that this writing becomes a work in itself. Usually I use writing as a kind of machine to produce visuals for physical works. In this instance the text seemed to line up in an awkward but interesting way with that show. It wasn’t there to annotate the works themselves or explain them, but to run parallel. It was also a way to be explicit about my intentions in a way that the physical work couldn’t be. For this text I wanted to talk about the construction of ‘nature’ in relationship to the history of garden design, how that mirrored movements in French philosophy and of course more general claims to what is ‘natural’. I think I use text also sometimes as a kind of pressure release for the physical artworks I make, so they don’t have to do so much heavy lifting and can just be themselves.