Struan Teague | Interview
This week we introduce you to our newest addition to the roster, Copenhagen-based Struan Teague.
Teague is an abstract painter and printmaker interested in how visual expression performs within a separate arena to written or spoken language. Working across both large and small scale canvases, screen-print editions, and artist books, Teague creates a visual language of forms through a balance of compositional structure and intuitive touch. Teague's use of instantaneous processes and materials - screen print, spray paint, even dirt and spillage - force quicker and more irrevocable decisions to be made, resulting in intuition taking a crucial role in the image making process.
Read our interview with him below.
Tell us about this body of work launching on Tappan?
This is a collection of unique screenprints, monoprints and paintings selected from a larger body of work thats been ongoing since 2015.
Tell us about your process.
My process is really direct and physical, you’ve just got to start without thinking too much and get your hands dirty. Then comes a more refined editing and cropping process where I decide what works and what doesn’t. I recycle a lot of works and hardly ever throw things out from the studio and even the ‘finished’ works remain part of the process in a referential way.
When do you make your best work?
That’s entirely unpredictable.
Regarding your method of making, is it a case of the material or method dictating the idea of the other way around?
Well I think the method and the idea are very much intertwined, the dictating factor frequently changes throughout the process.
Artist whose career you admire?
Last gallery show you went to?
Sergej Jensen at SMK in Copenhagen.
What are you most proud of?
My painting ‘What do bees do in a summer like this’.
What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
I don’t make any more than one year plans, and right now I don’t even have one of those.
If you could travel anywhere to create for a while, where would you go?
Somewhere hot, I’m tired of Northern European winters. I’m also just kind of interested in seeing how working in a hotter climate for a little while would affect my work, if at all.
What are your other hobbies?
I obsessively follow Celtic Football Club.
If you could have a drink with one artist, who would it be?
I think Raoul De Keyser would have been good company for a drink.
What influences you?
Absolutely anything that I encounter in my life can be an influence, to me influence is a subconscious thing that comes out in a visual way, not something I put into words.
What motivates you?
I get really frustrated when I’m not working. Even when the painting is a battle and it’s not going well I still get great satisfaction out of the process, I don’t really need any more motivation than that.
What’s your studio philosophy?
Work hard but don’t take it too seriously.
How many hours do you try and work in the studio per week?
I don’t really have a routine but I often spend a lot of time in the studio, about 10 hours a day.
Silence or sound while creating? If sound, what?
Always have music on, loud repetitive bass music usually gets me in a good working mood. Online radio stations like Rinse FM and NTS are my go to when looking for something new.
Tools or mediums you’re dying to experiment with?
I’m not sure there’s any special tools or mediums that I’m interested in which I don’t already have access to, I like to keep it simple. At the moment. I’d certainly like to learn more printmaking techniques and just explore the materials I currently use in much greater detail.
Working on a solo show at a new space in Cáceres, Spain early next year.
What’s the first thing you do when you begin formulating an idea for a piece?
Start doing it, never wait for the idea to finish formulating.
What work took you the longest to complete?
Not sure if there’s one work that stands out as taking the longest to complete. I see two sides of my work in this regard. There’s works which take a very long time and go through many layers and processes then there’s another set of works which are much lighter and happen almost instantaneously. I usually like the end result of the quicker works more but I have to go through the process of the heavier, more laborious works just to be able to get into the mindset of making the lighter ones.
Best gift you’ve ever received?
My bright red race bike.
Describe your work in 3 words.
Look at it.
What's one thing you still have from your childhood?
My handwriting hasn’t changed a bit, neither has my drawing really and I hope it stays that way.
Do you have a favorite quote, or a phrase you think about often?
"It’s like a man absentmindedly humming and being dumbfounded if asked whether he had meant that tune rather than another." - Rosalind Krauss
Have the cities you’ve lived in influenced your practice? If so, tell us a bit about that, and what elements in particular steered you in certain directions.
I’ve been living in Copenhagen for just over a year after graduating from art school in Scotland. I also now have a studio residency in Düsseldorf for the next 12 months. Moving around so much definitely has an impact on my practice, it creates restrictions but also being in new environments gives me a lot of energy for new work.
What country do you wish to visit?
There isn’t many countries that I wouldn’t like to visit.
What makes you nervous?
Answering questions and talking about my work, it’s about the visual.
What makes you laugh no matter what? What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Sorry these two are difficult questions! I have no idea!
What is one artist living or dead you feel a great connection to? Someone whose work has inspired your own practice and what you’re creating these days?
I’d have to say Cy Twombly. Looking back on it now, seeing his retrospective at the Tate Modern in 2008 had a huge impact on me before I really began taking painting seriously.
What’s one habit you wish you could break?
Who was your favorite teacher in school?
Ronnie the caretaker.