Dean Rossiter's Reaction Series: Engaging with Paint in your own Terms

Focus talks with emerging contemporary British Artist Dean Rossiter about painting, technology and the frameworks he sets up for you to engage with his work. 

In one sentence tell me what you do.

I paint questions rather than answers.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?

Quite late, truth be told, it was only until I was only until half way through doing my masters degree that I realised that I was that serious about it. I had the feeling that what I was doing could put something credible back into the world, or at least change it in some way. I wasn’t happy to do something with my life which I didn’t believe in, so I would say about two years ago.

You went to Chichester University, what would you say is your biggest take away from your experience there?

The ability to achieve anything you can believe in, there was such an energy at that university, you were pushed to be the best you could be and by the time I finished it I came out believing that I could do whatever I wanted and that it wasn’t unobtainable; it was completely rational.

Let’s talk about your subject matter, why do you paint what you paint?

Reaction VII, 2017 | Mixed media on canvas | 50 x 70 cm | £800

Reaction II, 2016 | Mixed media on canvas | 61 x 92 cm

I paint what I paint because of my current situation, being born after the creation of the internet and having grown up through the digital revolution of the 1990’s and the early noughties I have seen the impact technology has had on our culture. What I now feel is that we have ushered in technology to improve our quality of life, but somehow it is affecting it; in terms of identity theft, internet crime, but mainly in terms of how we engage with people. It is all too common now when you see people walking down the street or going out with friends, that rather than engage with people they are engaged with their electronic devices, they are addicted to their screens, addicted to your Ipad, your phone. With painting being a primarily visual medium I am interested in exploring how we can readjust this balance of unhealthy addiction in the 21st century’s digital technology.

Tell me about your process.

What I like to do is propose questions, rather than answers. Art is primarily about engagement, but also dialogue. I don’t believe art should be elitist, I think it should be participatory to an extent, so my process doesn’t use any representational qualities, it is completely polysemic and allows for you to engage with it on your own terms, but within a set framework that I have provided with the way I have painted it. That is through using a variety of mediums such as acrylic ink, paint, resins, binders, additives and certain chemicals to make a completely contingent process which I have no control over. So I am interested in exploring these themes of chaos and order, control and lack of control, which is felt quite prevalently in our current society. We have this desire to control and micromanage every element of our life and I want to explore this through paint; to have these visual vistas which don’t give you any clear narrative, they are just opportunities to engage the painting in your own free will.

Reaction VIII, 2017 | Mixed media on canvas | 60 x 90 cm | £1,650

What has been the most pivotal moment since leaving university?

It is difficult to say as it has been crazy since leaving, but I would say breaking into the emerging Chinese art market, because there is such a difference between the Chinese market and the British. There has always been a clear difference between Western art and Eastern art, and so to be an outsider in an Eastern country is something I am very proud of and something I would like to develop in my career.

So when is your show in China?

In March and I also have one coming up in May both in Wuxi city, near Shanghai in the Museum of Contemporary Art.

What are you hopes for 2017?

My hopes are to keep producing the work I am producing, I have finally struck upon something in the last six or so weeks, where my new ideas about this work and concepts which are starting to replace older ideas, are coming into fruition and they are being developed quite well. I look forward to producing them, and developing them to a higher finish in terms of visual quality and conceptual standpoint, but also looking forward to the opportunities that galleries are now presenting to me, mainly to exhibit with people of my age group, be involved with people who are ambitious, clear and driven in their direction and in their art. 

Dean will be exhibiting his latest reaction paintings in our Spring Collection @ Menier Gallery at the end of this month! For tickets to our private view click here.