Meet the artist behind our S/S21 "Phantasm" Print

Tell us about how you got into painting? I heard lockdowns have spurred you on creatively?

It was a natural progression from drawing really. I started after architecture school to engage with a more fluid side of myself, something I have never been that connected to or aware of until much later in my life. With the daily precision of architecture I wanted an outlet to keep connected to the improvised. Once upon a time I was a professional dancer. For me lockdown has been anything but what it suggests. I have never had so much available time to reflect and get back into art.

You work at Fearon Hay Architects as your main creative outlet; how does painting complement or inform your architectural practice? or vice versa?

Whether it be a brush, pen or graphite, they are all complimentary tools and extensions of the hand, providing opportunities to best communicate an idea to a client, consultant or colleague, tell a story or message or simply make a visual connection with another person. Both practices balance each other out in some way or another. A nice reminder to not lose sight of the gestural and design intent of an architectural concept, and to also think about structure, scale and materiality when it comes to painting. With art it is totally okay to leave things unresolved, unfortunately I cannot get away with that in buildings.

Would you call your paintings abstract? How would you explain it?

I like the word abstractions. In architecture I consider material and spatial abstractions. I have somewhat done the same with my art in the transfer of materials and altering compositions. The final work has likely to have gone through several layers of abstraction and this is what keeps the process thrilling to me. Sometimes something interesting happens immediately, but would then be revisited at a later date. I do not know if it is really ever final but rather it feels right at the time.

Tell us a bit about your process.

Each piece is really an experimentation or discovery if you like. The original Phantasm piece (which was further abstracted by Jason, encouraged of course) started with graphite sketches onto butter paper, which was then scanned, photoshopped and printed onto unstretched canvas, left to dry then stretched and washed with indian ink, meths and water using brushes, which allowed for an interesting strip, reveal and residue of layers. Whilst the process seemed long, each part was quite short-lived much like the changing seasons and ambitions of fashion.

Jason's collection is called XENO - a prefix meaning ‘alien’, ‘strange’ or ‘other’ — how do you feel your piece fits into this concept?

Surprisingly quite fitting. The uncertainty was quite alien to me at the time. I now fully embrace it. I never intended for my initial scribble to be almost woven into a painted surface. Whilst the process was something unexpected, the visual outcome was also somewhat mysterious and otherworldly.

Your artwork and colour palette fits well with the Jason Lingard vibe. Do you feel your aesthetics overlap?

Yes for sure in the colour department. There are also some similar suggestions in the silhouettes and movement of the paint. I also think about fabrics and have recently used alternatives to standard canvas such as silk and acetate, which offer different properties in the way it stretches and absorbs different substances.

Where do you see your painting practice heading next?

I have come across latex paint thanks to Jason. It is almost like painting out my own canvas. I am also seeking ways to bring more three-dimension and sculpture into my practice. Perhaps even some messy performance art. I am confidently uncertain about all of this!

Instagram: @albyyap