I met Neil Moore at my first ever art exhibit at the Town Hall in Leamington. When he handed me his business card I mistakenly thought the beautiful picture of a lady in a lake with lilies was was a photograph as it looked so stunningly real that I was shocked by the realisation it was a painting. This artwork had such a vivid reminiscence of the art I love, it recalled imagery which I adore such as ‘Hylas and the nymphs’ by John William Waterhouse which I’ve kept on my wall for years and ‘Ophelia’ by Sir John Everett Millais, and at the same time it was a whole new unique universe of beauty. I tiptoed trough his website later this same evening to discover powerful concepts laid out in beautiful, painfully real, distressing, provoking, thoutfll shapes… there was so much to see, to keep and reflect on that it was like discovering a hidden door to a labyrinth in the depth of your mind where you are discovering emotions walking blindfold leaving to your intuition to lead you all the way. I feel very privileged that he agreed to be interviewed for my blog and I am confident you would find in his words and artworks something that would challenge and/or comfort your own thoughts and ideas.
Which is your signature artwork?
I haven’t done it as yet. It is always the last one I work on, the next one I begin…
And which one appeals to a lot of people?
A particular artwork that seems to be complemented by many is ‘The lightness of darkness’.
Are there any constant motives in your artworks?
I am mainly interested in portraying people, I explore ideas related to the freedom and freedom of choice; the impossibility of balance in relationships (there is always going to be one who loves more than the other) – most of my ‘Dis’-painting (Disinclination, Disparity, Dishabille, Dissimulation, Disconcertion, Disorientation, Dissonance) are influenced of this theme. Many of my ideas are related to love and death. I draw inspiration from my own personal relationships and from experiences of those close to me.
I am quite cynical about weddings because so often you see people getting married and you can tell they are not right for another and it’s all artificial – they’ve gone through all this preparation and by the end of it this whole ‘big project’ have caused a friction between the two but they still go with it just because they feel they ought to. From what I’ve seen the more that was paid for a wedding, the more money spent on expensive wine and cars and venues, the less the wedded life lasted afterwards. It was all like a conveyor belt, at one moment everyone was getting married and none of it seemed to make any sense. In my own understanding to publicly declare your love in the form of a wedding is a sign of weakness, the mere fact that it has to be witnessed by others. When you love and you are with someone you don’t need any of that. My painting ‘The happiest day of your life’ has contained these reflections.
Which is your biggest achievement in art?
My next painting. You don’t know if you would be able to do it, there is always the fear of failure, there is all this anxiety. But if you are not frightened with failure you shouldn’t be doing it.
Which was your biggest challenge in art?
An artist’s career has its ups and downs financially. Ethically – choices you have to make.
What inspires you?
Life as it happens, experiences, whatever I find perplexing, curious, or amusing. People and society. Mainly people – I don’t care about anything else.
Describe your creative process:
Haphazard. When I am experiencing I am thinking about possibilities and things that intrigue me.
I am a conceptual artist. The idea is the leading. Then I spend time drawing and drawing and drawing before starting. But first I always have to collect and select the information. Then I don’t have to think about it once the idea is clear.
You have to do art not the way you are taught to do it, you have to do it the way you do it. The important thing is to find yourself . When I am teaching my students I create circumstances for them to learn and then blossom. That’s how they would build their self-esteem as artists. I try to help them by encouraging them. I don’t teach people to do what I do – this would be anti-art. It shouldn’t be driven by ‘this is what I can(as a skill) paint’ but by ‘this is what I want to paint’. If you teach art students the way you paint they would stop thinking what and how they would like to paint. So, in a sense – the more I teach, the less I teach. Because as an artist you just have to go there and do it: it’s not enough to only have ‘dry knowledge’ in art.
When did you realise you are an artist?
I was 4 years old, it was the first school day at a local primary school and we were all given a book with blank pages and asked to make a drawing. So I did my drawing and when I finished the teacher took me to the head mistress and stamped my painting with a red star, I didn’t think much of it at the time, I didn’t know what it meant but it turns out it was the highest recognition that the school could give you and this was a turning point for me.
The artist’s role:
Is making life bearable for the people who haven’t got the time to do it. People often find themselves in art, things they wanted to express or create on their own but never had the chance to. Art is a consolation, a hope for the future.
What is the mission of art as you perceive it?
My art is entirely self-indulgent, I only paint things that I want to paint.
What would you advise an artist who has lost his/her way?
We all start with this wave of creativity and sometimes we reach a dead end. I always say the best thing to do is to go back to a specific moment in which you’ve taken the current direction of your artwork and just choose a different route – go back and find your way.
You need to be receptive of the skills you’ve got. A good exercise – out of something that means nothing to you try to create something of your own.
How do you respond to criticism of your artworks?
Criticism has been a bit disappointing as noone ever says something… I won’t be offended by it but it will make me think about it, it will help me examine my art though a different lens.
You have been described in the media as controversial. Why do you think is that?
Some of my artworks are brutally honest and would normally not be given public airing. People are so often misled by paintings. With realism people don’t look because it’s so familiar.
An example is a painting by Andrew Wyeth I had the chance to see – ‘Christina’s World‘. I was listening to the conversations of the people who were looking at it and so many of them thought it was a romantic picture of a young girl when you could see if you pay attention that it’s a lady in her 50s: her arm, structure, old-fashioned dress and grey in the hair all revealing the story behind the painting.
Could you give an example of something that you have purposely put in one of your artworks that people have missed to see?
I do that all the time. For instance my painting ‘Subversive’ was exhibited in a gallery in London and throughout the whole exhibition noone noticed the girl has six toes on each foot…
What artworks have you purchased yourself?
Most of them are works of fellow artist we know or used to know. Artworks we know the ‘back story’ of. People live through their art.
How do you select your materials?
I paint with oils, I do prefer the Rembrandt range as they are a bit more liquefied. Oils allow me to do what I want to do compared to all other media. People often find them too slow to work with, I find them too fast! I use all sorts of brushes, I am a bit of a brushoholic.
Thank you, Neil.
More of Neil Moore’s works can be discovered on his website – www.neilmoore.co.uk, make sure you check to see any upcoming exhibitions he is taking part in.
Quite often people see in an artist’s work what their true self thinks or wants to see rather than what the artist meant to explore through his/her work. In an artist’s work I often see the interest of the doctor to his patient, even if this patient is the society itself, but this idea is sometimes hard to grasp.
In Neil’s work I personally see anything an art should be the way I see art: it’s not just the aesthetically pleasing element of it, it is the part that dazzles you, that makes you ask questions, that leaves you thinking and makes you feel something. Not any work, very few works can do all that at once…