Rachel Garrard

Where are you from and where do you reside?
I am from Devon, England, but for now I am living in New York.
What’s you’re favorite part of living in New York?
New York has a great community of artists, and plenty of opportunity for cross pollination of ideas and collaborations.
What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
The best works come when I am away from distractions, when I am in solitude, when I am living simply. The more things I let go of, the more commitments and activities I release, the more I can focus on the work. When my life becomes so free from other activities that I can focus solely on painting, I become the paintings. Everything in my life hangs on the paintings, every brush stroke, every subtle change of color, every line, my life depends on. The work become sublimes because it contains within them the fragility of my own life.

With painting there has to be an element of dying, of letting go of all that which has gone before. You have to completely let go of any idea of who you are in order for something new to move through you. Painting can be joyful, it brings the greatest satisfaction. But for me painting has never been easy, it is a struggle, because you are constantly having to reinvent the way in which you perceive the world.

Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?
The inspiration for my work most importantly involves getting into the right mindset. For me in order to really think creatively, I have to get out of the realm of mundane everyday thoughts into a more silent empty space of awareness, then from this void new ideas can reveal themselves.
How important is spontaneity in your art?
My work is a constant balance between contemplative visions, automatic drawing, and super-precise mapping.

I start with an idea, then vague sketches, which are then developed into very precise mathematical mappings. I spend a lot of the time trying to make drawings with perfectly harmonious geometric structures that will form the foundation of a painting. I then test out lots of different processed and materials. When it comes to actually making the painting, I get into a mode of trying not to think and let the intuition flow through me. It’s an ordered chaos. There is always a magical moment somewhere in the process where you can’t remember how you got to where you are.

What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?
I had the notion from a very young age that some of our views on death are not very helpful. People try to avoid death, stay young forever. In a way that is stemming from the material age where we believe only the physical things that we can see are there. I decided it would be important to acknowledge death and not be fearful, it changes your perceptions and makes you live more fully. And this recurring, cyclic, transformative process has always been essential to my work.
There is always a magical moment somewhere in the process where you can't remember how you got to where you are. — Rachel Garrard
You have a very process-oriented approach to image-making. How did you first start, and how did you know it was the right path to pursue?
I have been making art in one form or another since I can remember. It has changed directions, forms and mediums along the way, but I always knew I was meant to be an artist, I never questioned that.
How do you choose your materials?
Mostly through experimentation, or if I come across something inspiring that I want to try out.
How does your choice of material inform the final piece?
The paintings often go through a physical transformation such as burning, bleaching, or a series of symbolic actions and gestures, which I will sometimes film as part of the process. I like to create my own pigment paintings that have symbolic importance to me. Examples of this are ground rock pigments that I have collected from my travels in South America, ground up seashells, soil, powdered quartz crystal, or ash from “temazcal” ritual in central America. The paintings include the materials that come from my own experiences in nature, so are used both in reverence to nature and are nature.
The paintings include the materials that come from my own experiences in nature, so are used both in reverence to nature and are nature. — Rachel Garrard
What’s next for you?
I have a solo exhibition opening February 23rd at Tanja Grunert Gallery in Chelsea. I will be showing a series of paintings that I made last year in Mexico. For the works, I created plant pigments from a variety of organic materials such as berries, herbs, spices, vegetables, and algae. The works are the remnants of an orchestrated process that is both incredibly precise and organically unpredictable. Although structurally geometric, the plant pigments seem alive: they seep, bleed, and distort from the line into fluid forms, the colors merging and emerging out of one and other.

Fire III

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