Introducing "Lines Unleashed and Hacked Clouds" by Thomas Lisle

Introducing "Lines Unleashed and Hacked Clouds" by Thomas Lisle

Q: We are really pleased to be launching and managing this wonderful collection; before you tell us more about the collection, can you please tell us a bit about yourself and your practice?

Thomas Lisle: I'm interested in abstraction, both figurative and non-figurative. I remember the first abstract work I made when I was about 7, I'd seen this Picasso sort of painting hack, where he poured what looks like gloss paint on top of some peas, a butterfly and some grass and a few other bits and pieces, and I thought I could do that, so I got a shoebox lid as a canvas and an old tin of turquoise paint, and some objects, soil probably as well. I kept the work handy to show the many artists who dropped in to talk to my father. I was growing up at the height of the British abstract art movement, though by the time I got to Art school, the focus had shifted a bit more to conceptual works. I like experimenting and not following the trend, but where I intuitively wanted to investigate art that was more contemporary to the techno music and video culture of the time. I've always admired Cezanne's independence to produce the art he wanted rather than what the market wanted. Of course, along the way, I've made some mistakes. Still, the journey from trying to make video glitch time-based painterly images in 1981 on my foundation course to digital 3D paintings is one of both developing content and aesthetics.

Q: We love Lines Unleashed and Hacked Clouds. How did these videos come about? 

Thomas Lisle: Contemporary painters from Helen Frankenthaler to Albert Oehlen, to name a few, really understand visual aesthetics, colour and composition in abstract painting, as do many others. My struggle has been how to realize these fundamentals of painting into time-based artworks, which are contemporary, digital, 3D, and procedural so that I don't have to paint every frame. And to try and realize this more painterly approach, I have tried a wide variety of digital techniques and digital simulation hacks; believe me, there are a lot of options. My last work, Love's Journey, brought many of the pieces together but not in one composition in one place, and I wanted to change that. I wanted any frame from my new work to look like a contemporary painting that I could print out and look at and say that it looks like a painting. I want to make visually and content-rich paintings with many different and contrasting forms, techniques and animations.

With time-based video, I feel this need for a narrative, or the narrative has a need to be known; I'm not sure which. I do a lot of reading and research in psychology and comparative philosophy and find that it's easy to see parallels between what I'm thinking about and the artwork I'm producing. I believe a figurative element is important sometimes and when I use a figure, I want it to be in an abstract way, in the past, I have tended to become too literal in my figurative symbolism. I wanted to free myself more and make the figure a part of the abstract composition.

Q: We really like the colours and compositions in these new works. Can you tell us a bit more about how they came about?

Composition, colour and form are the fundamentals of abstract painting. I don't think I started to get 'composition' until my late 30s. With a time-based composition, the whole painting constantly shifts; parts of the composition are continually getting better or worse, more dynamic, less dynamic. The trick has been to try and build some kind of crescendo so each piece builds up to something and then transforms and changes again.

I get excited by the colour relationships, as it's not easy to get right. I find there's a fluctuation between dark and light moods. In fact, there's a never-ending tension between dark and light in most of these works. The light bits need the dark areas. At the same time, I don't want to take colour and composition too seriously. I'm happy to let things happen that seem relevant or interesting and even progress them. Nothing is hidden in these works. When there are lots of things happening at once, it builds richness, tension and conflict into the work; some intended, some not. I can't help referencing this back to psychological processes; whatever psychological transition we may go through, it's never a straight line from A to B, and hopefully, it's not back to A again, but it does happen.

Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your digital painting? 

Most of the elements in this collection are made with a digital brush. I stopped thinking in terms of a painting as oil on canvas or watercolour on paper a long time ago. I tend to think in terms of lines, marks, forms, colour and composition, but not in traditional ways that would be boring, but in ways that seem new and of our time now. I'm happy if all goes wrong; bringing it back to some kind of aesthetic balance feels like an achievement. In the digital world, you program your brush to do what you want, and with a 3D brush, it's also a sculpture too, how cool is that? I can make a 3D painting which is animated and take a frame of it and make a 3D sculpture out of it, or use it in AR or VR; it's the same 3D paint stroke. Interestingly, you can look at the same thing from thousands of positions, but if you want a specific composition, you have to be in a specific place. That's why the camera doesn't move in these new works, as I wanted to focus on the composition.

Q: How has the progression of technology, specifically within the digital art realm, influenced your artistic journey and contributed to your latest work? 

Well, bigger and faster computers have helped. I couldn't have done this on the computers I had a year ago. Visual language programming systems have also been a great help. I've never been a code writer as such, new systems of visually building the code and visual look without writing any code have helped me a lot.

Q: In the context of the rapidly evolving digital art world, what are your thoughts on the future of art and technology?

I'm sure that the digital art world will keep on growing. I know a great many painters who work out their paintings in Photoshop. I know a lot of artists, especially of my generation, have no interest in Digital art, but the students at art college today will all have fairly decent computers and some experience working in 3D or generative art and have 100% more exposure to digital things than I did as a student. What's hard to do today will be made easy in 10 years time.

Q: Lastly, what can we expect from Thomas Lisle in the future? Are there any new artistic projects or collaborations on the horizon that you can share with us?

I'm starting some physical paintings inspired by Lines Unleashed and Hacked Clouds, and I've started making some new digital abstract figurative works too. I'd like to make an extended version of Lines Unleashed. I've been invited to use one of my older works in a large public art AR project in Tirana, Albania.

My main aim is to push the boundaries to new levels of dynamism, invention, and relevance to the present. It's the artist's duty not to be boring! I don't want to be bored either.

Mentioned artists
Thomas Lisle
Thomas Lisle
Followers 141
Artworks 23