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Alexander Haywood

Artist Spotlight

I am fascinated by the line between the known and the unknown. By combining figurative elements that are more recognisable with abstract elements that have an otherworldly quality, I hope to create a liminal space between dream and reality.

Alexander Haywood's practice explores the boundaries between the real and the imagined by infusing the outer - the landscape - with subjective inner perception. His paintings reflect emotions and subtle states of consciousness, revealing both what is unique to his own psyche and universal to the human condition. Whether it is through his use of perspective, attention to detail, or emotive expression, the artist aims to create an intimate and immersive experience in order to dissolve the separation between subject and object, the image and the viewer. With cinematic compositions capturing nature’s vastness and diversity, his work illuminates the value of reestablishing a more harmonious relationship with the natural world through a sense of awe.

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INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST


Q. Did you always want to become an artist?

A. Ever since I could hold a pencil, I have been drawing. I would draw through all my classes at school. Growing up, I would create art as an escape into my imagination, bringing to life the stories and characters that inhabited it. At university, I fell in love with paint, which opened up a world of unlimited colour and expression and affirmed my desire to become an artist. I love the raw physicality of paint, and the alchemical process of transforming pigments from the earth into artefacts of imaginative expression.

Q. Do you think your time in Berlin has had a specific impact on your artistic development?

A. I find Berlin to be an incredibly unique place that has definitely had an impact on my work. The city has an almost post-apocalyptic feel, with ivy growing over derelict buildings that were left over from the GDR; it’s lack of high rises and easy access to lakes and green spaces means you can see panoramic views of the city under vast skies. These aspects of the city definitely influenced my painting.

I had a studio in an old margarine factory that was filled with artists working in a diverse range of mediums. Learning about their practices and receiving feedback also enriched my artistic development.

Q. You have stated that your work navigates a balance between the real and the imagined - could you elaborate on this?

A. I have always been fascinated by dreams and their power to visually express abstract concepts and feelings beyond the grasp of our rational minds. I try to do the same in painting. By using features of the natural world I try to symbolically reveal the ineffable deeper realms of the psyche in order to share experiences with the viewer.

I believe we experience the world filtered through the rich tapestry of our imagination: thoughts, feelings, memories and visions. So when I paint a scene that represents and evokes a particular feeling, I am reflecting the process through which we create our realities, where the ‘objective’ world is coloured by our subjective inner state.

Q. Have you always been fascinated by nature and the genre of landscape painting?

A. I grew up in the countryside and when I was younger, would spend a lot of time exploring the surrounding woods. The vast landscape provided space for my imagination to run wild. Watching trees move in the wind, each with their own character, or the sun set over the rolling hills, I often felt in awe of the natural world. I love landscape paintings' ability to recreate an atmosphere and immerse the viewer in a scene. I have also always been fascinated by the patterns, colours and textures of nature and have found the organic quality of paint to be the best way to emulate this.


Q. Your work seems to draw the viewer into the depths of those night skies - and provide an immersive experience. Is this something you are consciously trying to evoke and if so, what would you like to achieve with this?

A. Yes, that’s exactly what I hope to do. Creating an immersive experience is at the core of my practice. I find a starry night sky to be one of the most immersive views, in which I tend to lose myself in awe of the depth of the infinite vastness of nature. Symbolically, a vast starry sky reminds me of a sense of inner spaciousness outside the chatter of my mind, an experience I hope to share with the viewer.

Q. Your work has a strong cinematic feeling to it, do film or photography play a part in your artistic or inspirational process?

A. Photography plays a key role in my gathering of inspiration for paintings. I am continually sketching and taking photos of scenes in my environment, which I use as a starting point for painting compositions and subjects. I am inspired by the absorbing quality of cinema, which I try to emulate through compositions that transport the viewer into another world. Film’s ability to convey a narrative through the use of archetypal images and themes also plays an integral role in my work.

Q. You have stated that your work is to be perceived as a visual metaphor for key issues facing society today. Which issues are particularly important to you and how do you integrate these in your work?

A. We are fundamentally a part of nature, but when we are continually surrounded by the artificial and distracted by this bombardment of information online, we can lose our sense of connectedness. As we become increasingly submerged in the digital world, my paintings try to highlight the value of reconnecting with the natural, physical world. By exploring both my own internal nature and the external world through the process of expressive painting I hope to remind people of their deeper sense of self which transcends the divisions and conflicts of society and is more connected to all forms of life.

Q. Your works often pose a rather strict division between the chaos of nature and the abstract vastness of the universe. Is there a specific reason you choose to create the works somewhere in a realm between the figurative and the abstract?

A. I am fascinated by the line between the known and the unknown. By combining figurative elements that are more recognisable and familiar with abstract elements that have an otherworldly quality, I hope to create a liminal space between dream and reality. 

I use figurative compositions and forms as a vehicle to express my inner landscape.

Q. Which other creatives do you admire?

A. I greatly admire the work of Michael Armitage and his ability to strike a harmonious balance between abstract and figurative painting, something which I explore in my own work. I love the way his work combines elements of real events with dreamlike imagery and expressive colours and patterns, similar to Noah Davis and Peter Doig.

I have also been influenced by the work of Georgia O’Keefe. Her paintings have an incredible ability to capture the vibrancy of nature through her use of colour in simple yet refined compositions. Another artist that I think uses colour exquisitely is Paul Gauguin.

Q. Could you describe your work in three words? 

A. Immersive - Otherworldly - Serene


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