The Vertical and the Horizontal: Patrick Blower Explains his Modernist Edge

How would you describe your art?

I respond to the urban environment, I’m particularly interested in modernism and the geometric hard edge. My paintings range from formal grid paintings, which are completely non-representational, through to trying to evoke or suggest some kind of architectural or man made form using very gestural marks. I’m interested in the space between representation and abstraction, so it suggests something yet remains elusive. I don’t want to fall into illustration or literal rendition of the figurative.

What drives you to make art?

It’s just this constant visual wonder at the world and the beauty in form; wanting to capture it and reproduce it from my own head.

What would you say is the most important compositional aspect of your artwork?

The horizontal and the vertical.

Why?

Again, it all leads back to modernism; I find a particular aesthetic pleasure in the horizontal and vertical. I like working within constraints and, therefore, by largely eliminating other marks I have to work harder to try and find meaning within the marks that I do choose. In fact, that extends to some of the pixelated artworks I have produced, which is a whole other area of enquiry, because we are bombarded by images every day, and the vast amount of reproduced images in print or online are composed of pixels. Billions and billions of bits of information, which are essentially the unit; a square. When I did my huge Shard diptych that was composed of thousands of squares, so the boundary between one piece of information and another is the vertical or horizontal line.

Who would you say your favourite artist is?

The impossible question! Growing up I was absolutely obsessed by Picasso, as much as the unstoppable energy of his constant inventiveness. At some point every artist has been in Picasso’s shadow. As I’ve got older there have been artists that I loved but that I've since lost interest  in, such as Modigliani. It’s too fluid to say. I could find ten painters that would range from Gerhard Richter to the late Roman Opalka, a French Polish painter.

I mean Gerhard Richter is the greatest living painter for the range of his work.

What has been the most pivotal moment in your career so far?

There hasn’t been one, and that is not an evasive answer deliberately, but I have drawn ever since I can remember, and from a very young age I had the conviction that I would make my living certainly from drawing, maybe not painting.

When I was younger I went to live in New York and I was doing odd jobs like everyone with no money at the time, building sites, delis what ever I could get, and in between I was doing my artwork and it was actually cartoons that got me my first break. I sold a cartoon to a magazine and did some illustrations. When I got back to London, although I painted the necessity to earn a living meant I became a political cartoonist. That is where I got my big breaks. It’s only more recently that I started painting with a vengeance and picked up where I left off maybe thirty years ago, but I’m really getting into it now in the last five or six years and it’s just a very, very gradual evolution which is how I prefer it. I’ve got into a couple of quite prestigious exhibitions such as the Lynne Painter-Stainers prize at the Mall Galleries and also the Threadneedle Prize, so my paintings have been recognised and I enjoy what I’m doing.

What advice would you give to a young budding artist?

Forget ever being able to buy your own house! Haha!

No, I mean it’s a vocation, this is why I could never be a teacher, because it’s something that is in you or it isn’t. With the artist, it’s a drive that you can’t suppress and are the rewards going to be there? I think there are something like 30,000 artists in London, most will go through their entire lives without any sort of acclaim or recognition. Does it mean you don’t do it? No, if the drive is there the only answer is the same with everything else, you stick at it and you keep going and just find joy in what you are doing. Try, try, try!