Combining photography and painting, black & white and colours, real and surreal life and problems, this young Berlin based British artist William Grob attracts Underground with his newly finished book MASKS a series of images pointing the finger at the dishonesty in the digital age and the problems of the superficial world.
In William’s works and words Underground senses more than a touch of punk: from DIY style, mixing fine art photography, graffiti and comic illustration to the attitude towards the dismal social issues of the day.
Underground talks with William Grob about his art, his life and his inspiration.
How did the style of blending photography and painting start? What and who influences you strongly?
I’ve been working over photographs for the last four years and it all started for my final degree project; the aim of the project was to create a more honest photograph. I based the project around landscapes but the issue I already had was that the photograph could only show the viewer what I was seeing and not how I was feeling or what was on mind. I started going on long walks with a pen and my camera before I took a shot I’d write down whoever was on my mind, be it a lover, a friend or family. The plan was that once I had developed and printed out the photograph I could add this aspect of my memory to the imagery by painting their portrait directly over the top. Combining memory and sight to create honesty. I guess what strongly influenced me was the abundance of decorative art yes visually pleasing and at times very talented but it says nothing. I think art as a medium is such a luxury, we as artist should be pushing the controversial issues that can be digested and plant a thought in someone’s head.
Tell me more about your Masking Societies? What is the inspiration of the Masks?
New York was, everything changed once I arrived, the pace, the people, and the principles. The change from Mother Nature’s streets to the dirty concrete jungle, I went from semi photo realistic painting to more gutsy, instant and relevant to my surroundings work. Cartoons, characters, blocks and shapes, anything to direct attention to a subject we don’t like to talk about society and all its fuck ups.
Your titles of the art are so on point and realistic too, which comes out first, the theme/idea or the visuals?
I like to think it’s a blend of all three, the process is quite a simple one. I’d walk around for a few days shooting constantly of anything and everything, attempting to capture the NYC hustle. Then I’d sit and draw over them, always sitting at a caf or on bench in the city, for me It became more a abstract documentary. I never really came up with the title until the drawing was finished because I never really knew what the drawing was to become. You can change the whole image just by covering one aspect. The titles almost become obvious by the end.
We sensed a punk in your works, no matter the techniques or the attitudes; do you have any sub cultures that inspired you?
I guess a combination I like characters. Someone who can walk down the street and own it or at least own them selves not to be a slave to the norm.
What’s up next for you?
I’ve just moved into a new space, which is able to house some larger works. So the plan is to do some screen-printing, transfers and some big painting. The mild plan is to do some big graphic street scenes, bold text, block colour commenting on issues of waste and consumerism. But to be honest I’ll just wait to see what my hands decide.
Now the ‘Masks’ artist limited signed editions is out, and we are looking forward to see more of Williams work. More info please check out his website and his Instagram.
Our ongoing series of reports on emerging and established artists with close-up Q&As, gallery reports and exhibition reviews, with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in art, women in art and the independent art scene.
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