Oil colours, anthropomorphic figures and a urban touch: an interview with Joram Roukes.
Renton: I’ve enjoyed spending some time looking at your website and biography and reading some interviews and articles about you, and what emerges is that your art depicts in some way the “issues” of our Western society. The main subject of almost all your paintings is however an anthropomorphic figure, so what’s the relation between these figures and animals, and the meaning of your artworks?
Joram Roukes: When you paint a human face first of all your are portraying someone, a person that does exist. What I try to do in the works instead is to keep them anonymous, so it’s not about a person, not about an individual, but more about the generation and the society I’m trying to put across in the painting.
When you paint animals heads there are a lot of associations and relations with the human behaviour: animals can be dirty or sly for example. There are really a lot of behavioural things that can be associated with any sort of animals and together with the other imaginary in the painting, I think it’s a stronger way of complementing the story rather than using human faces.
So it’s matter of anonymity, and also leaving lands for more associations.
R: You come from a traditional art background but in your artworks we can also spot elements from the urban and graffiti culture: are you also carrying on some project in the streets? Or did you do it in the past?
JR: I used to do a lot of graffiti when I was a little younger and I still do it every now and then. I’m not as active as I used to be, but it’s definitively one of the main pillars of the aesthetics of the work.
I think I come from both those traditions, and you can see that in the work.
R: So are you planning some bigger project just in the streets?
JR: Yes, I always wanted to do more of that.
I used to do more traditional graffitis, just writing my name in colourful pieces and it’s that aesthetics and that way of line and shade that you can see in the works, but also the collage way of working that I do right now will be perfect to assemble in the streets.
I didn’t do any plan yet, but I think what I’m doing now would also be really nice in the streets.I definitively want to pursuit a lot more but the studio work is taking a lot of time as well.
JR: This is a tricky question, it’s really hard to tell what the main inspiration really is.
As for the work I’ve done in the past it’s still present a reference to issues in society together with a mix of imaginaries and references that make up a rather positive story. This is always something I try to do a little bit.For this show I’ve chosen to go with the title “Oils” to be free in creating spontaneous works just made up of oil painting and showing the range of skills I think I control working with them.
It’s a very general theme and it gives me a lot of freedom.
R: Have you ever thought of experimenting with some completely new technique or media? Sculptures or installations perhaps?
JR: Apart for painting I draw, but so far what I’ve done is all two-dimensional.
I’ve never thought of making these figures three-dimensional, but I think they still could be made working with collages and references and assembling them but in a three-dimensional way. I think it could be nice and I might do that at certain point.
I may use real animal heads… it will be interesting, maybe a little more grotesque. It would be very complex, a challenge to see how to create those figures in 3D.
R: Your first solo show in London, Oils, ended just few months ago and you have exposed quite often around Netherlands lately. What’s next? Are you already working on some new project or exhibition?
JR: Actually I’m currently working on new pieces for a collaboration with a gallery in LA. It’s still under wraps but its looking good. Also there might be a few projects coming up in Berlin. Can’t say too much about it at this point but all very exciting to keep pursuing international projects. I enjoy it a lot!
A huge thanks to Joram Roukes for his time with us.