Art Interview Young Art Week

All above images installation view, ‘All That Matters Is What’s Left Behind’ at Ronchini Gallery. Courtesy Ronchini Gallery

Welcome to HERO Young Art Week – our essential, multifaceted guide to the new wave of creatives working at the vanguard of contemporary art today. Across a dynamic week of digital content, we’re exploring what’s happening at the epicentre of this global community: from the ground up, the artists themselves and the key figures witnessing the evolution of the ideas, trends and movements defining this art generation.

“We have noticed a renaissance of interest among young artists in making work built by their own hand with a clear focus on materials and process,” says Roxanna Farboud, curator at Ronchini Gallery. “For many artists, innovations in digital technology have completely transformed the concept of their work but for others there is a still a profound human need to re-experience the actual and tangible. The new generation is taking movements that came before them such as minimalism and Arte Povera and adding their own unique twist on them.”

This is the premise of the gallery’s new group exhibition, All That Matters Is What’s Left Behind. Featuring Alex Clarke, Phoebe Collings-James, Ziggy Grudzinskas, Prem Sahib, Rebecca Ward and Jens Wolf, the show features works by artists who have found a way to note their own personal presence within their works. So – created by hand and eye, “leaving imperfections behind and adding physicality to the work,” as Farboud explains.

Rebecca Ward is a Texan artist based in New York who creates subtly evocative paintings and large scale installations, founded an exploration of the iconography of feminine gesture, contemporary Americana culture and craft. Here, Ward reflects on the show and her own experience as an emerging artist based in the Big Apple…

HERO: Who are you, where are you from and what do you do?
Rebecca Ward: Rebecca Ward, from Texas, I’m an artist, which means I’m always a highly-qualified professional procrastinator. I work in non-traditional media and create sculpture and sculpture-influenced paintings.

Can you tell us about the works you are showing in this exhibition?
RW: These are works from a new series. They are about time and feeling and memory. This is a continuation of work I’ve been doing that examines the canvas as a physical object, how its physical properties affect the final appearance of the art, and how physical changes to the canvas (beyond the application of media to the canvas) can produce the final piece. In particular I deconstruct and reconstruct the canvas, which is an extremely slow process, so my art reflects a chronal dimension as well. The deconstruction process involves things like sewing, and much of my media comes from household materials and cleaning projects that are associated with ‘traditional’ female societal roles, so there’s an aspect of the work that explores femininity and gender roles. There’s also a chromal dimension to my work, and I’m exploring the ways that colour palettes can recall memories in the same way that familiar smells can instantly take you back to a specific time and place.

Rebecca Ward 'Oneirism' 2014. Oil and acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

‘Art’ – what does this word mean to you?
RW: It means the freedom to mean whatever you want it to mean. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what it means to me. I want people who view my work to decide what it means to them.

I do hope that my manipulation of the canvas challenges people’s conception of art. Most people think of a painting as just the picture itself and not the physical object, but by rearranging the threads of the canvas, the picture itself changes, and the effect of seeing this in person and viewing the piece from multiple angles is completely different from the flat image that most people think of as art. 

One great thing about this is that, while many art forms are being commoditised due to digitalisation, I’m trying to make my work in such a way that seeing the physical piece in person is essential to truly experiencing it. Seeing my work in a gallery is so much better than looking at pictures on a web page. 

Rebecca Ward in her Brooklyn studio. Courtesy the artist, ARTNESIA and Ronchini Gallery
Rebecca Ward 'Shucked and Silked' 2013, Barbara David Gallery. Courtesy the artist and Ronchini Gallery

How would you describe the young artist community you’re currently working within?
RW: New York is a good place to be an artist. It has a very high concentration of original, inspiring talent.

What is the place of politics in art today?
RW: Some artists work is more overtly political than others, but just because something is abstract doesn’t mean its not political in nature. It’s important to be aware and informed with everything you do. For example, my art may not seem political at first, but as I mentioned, the use of traditionally feminine techniques and materials leads to an exploration of gender roles.

Can you name one thing that you feel is defining the new generation of artists?
RW: The market. Works can be defined more by their market value than their conceptual value.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
RW: Still inspired to make art.

Rebecca Ward is part of the exhibition All That Matters Is What’s Left Behind , until 8 November at Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St, London W1S 1AN

Stay tuned for more HERO Young Art Week content in the coming days and plug into our social media platforms for updates as they come.