After long hours of fruitless searching for information on the artists chosen for my task on the visit to the RHA in November I decided to take some of my own advice & go directly to the source.
Having sent an email to my two chosen artists I received a wonderfully helpful reply from the artist Vera Klute who offered, rather than play email ping pong, to chat over the phone & discuss any questions I may have regarding her piece “Stampede”. It turned out to be a very easygoing conversation and the artist was only too delighted & a little flattered to be asked about her work.
Rather than take up too much of her time I decided to keep the call to 3 questions.
- Was there any one thing or number of things that inspired the work “Stampede”.?
“I am not hugely conceptual but sometimes over a period of time the same themes keep popping up. Over the last couple of years I have been doing a lot of drawings of groups & people merging together, along with busts of people merging together so I guess it came out of that.”
The artist is also a lover of stone sculptures and how the stone can have a soft pliable look to it, but is actually hard. With Stampede, the paper is soft but actually has the look of the stone sculptures that remind her of some of her favorite sculptors such as Michelangelo & Bernini.
Vera Klute is the current winner of the Hennessy Portrait Prize & has exhibited in many galleries including the National Gallery of Ireland.
Her Hennessy award winning portrait of a family friend was inspired by a sculpture of her friends family. Klute wanted to single out the mother due to her intense gaze & very beautiful features so decided to use paint to create the work.
Speaking about the work Klute says: “I really wanted to have another look at her face and explore it as a painting. While this is obviously a portrait, what interests me most about depicting people is the texture of the skin with wrinkles, veins and tonal variations. Imperfections and signs of aging show the fragility of the body and its mortality, which for me makes the portrait of an individual universally relevant.” (Source RTE.Ten: Article Here.)
- What tools or process did you use in the creation of this work.?
“I did the 3D model in Blender which is a simple 3d modeling software that you can download for free. I did the finished project digitally on the computer and then worked backwards from that.”
“The computer does it automated to some degree in that it can unwrap the shape, but there is a painful amount of work in defining the scenes and all of that to try iron out any mistakes, otherwise you end up having a lot of distortion. It sounds simple but you can actually have weeks & weeks of painful work. You are then left with lots of paper layouts that have to be cut & scored & glued together. It’s like a huge puzzle then, I think I was left with 3-4 thousand individual triangles that would be pieced together, sometimes in groups of perhaps up to 20 pieces.”
When asked if there were any internal supports in the work she replied: “No, it’s just supported by it’s self. I thought it would be freestanding and supported by it’s own feet but it does sort of crush it’s self down. It does hold it’s own shape but without the little rods outside to support it the feet couldn’t take the weight.”
- Do you have a favorite medium you like to work with.
Despite having just won the Hennessy Portrait Prize the artist is very modest about her painting skills.
“I don’t think I’m much of a painter to be honest, I only ever do portraits really and I haven’t even done that many. I’m trying to do some other painting, at the moment I’m trying to do some landscape paintings. I never quite figured it out, it’s quite a different ball game. I’m quite comfortable with faces but other stuff I’m still struggling with. I like doing a bit of everything, I like to have a balance. At the moment I was doing a lot of painting & I was also trying out some ceramics. I wouldn’t want to spend weeks & weeks doing the same thing.”
Regardless of her modest & self deprecating manor, I think there is a great depth to her work & to this piece in particular & the more I understand about the process the more appreciation I have for the finished work.
I am really intrigued by the many ways this piece can be viewed. Depending on the fall of light it has a constantly changing shape & depth. A simple turn of the head can change the definition of shadow allowing it to almost move or breath. Each geometric shape at a different angle will have the shadows reacting in totally different ways.
Vera Klute is not standing still & is due to exhibit at the Molesworth Gallery, Dublin, in May 2016.
Below is my drawing of the artists work, “Stampede”. Some of the finer details of the feet didn’t work out as planned but I think I got the shape & shading close to what I saw.