Recognised for his ambiguous layering and subtle transparencies, Scottish painter Stuart McAlpine Miller, a graduate from the Glasgow School of Art, has developed an impressive portfolio over the last 20 years, but has only recently been receiving the recognition he deserves, with art critic Estelle Lovatt suggesting that he was the next big artist to invest in.
Harnessing the consumer ideals of superheroes, haute-European models and Disney characters, McAlpine Miller experiments with pop art re-appropriation but laces this with a more current, information-heavy slant, pointing often towards the vacuity and bewildering nature of mainstream culture. Glass spoke to the artist about his process and inspirations.
How did you come upon your technique? How was it developed?
I think the technique is something I’ve been working on ever really, I suppose. But it’s been a gradual process of looking at ideas that have been contained within my early works and been haven found possible interest in it, in certain parts in thinking actually I’d like to develop that in some way you know if I look back in works I produced 20 years ago and five years ago there are aspects of what I’m doing now contained within that.
It’s looking at glass that may be situated and the reflections that come from behind the glass and how objects pass through glass. That’s the same idea as what I’m doing here, it’s like imagining that front image to be almost like a transparent non-dense object like making it almost see-through, but you’ve still got to retain that idea that it is a very solid object.
I’m currently working on a new series of work. Everything is ongoing, in the process of producing this series of work, everything develops and all the work develops and changes as a process of working over a year and a half. I’m constantly looking around me and understanding what’s happening around me through the news. And these paintings are a social comment really, and you can take from it what you choose to.
They can be either pretty attractive paintings, or you can choose to look beyond that and try and understand maybe some of my explanations as to why I produce these works. As far as to what’s next, there is a final painting which I produced, which was quite a complex and large piece and that was very challenging and that’s going to lead on to the next series of paintings.
Your work has changed from your previous exhibitions, are there any conscious changes or similarities between them?
There are a lot of similarities in the sense of that I’ve always looked at things around me. Whether the works have been dressed up in a surrealist way, there has always been some angle with my work. I’m constantly aware of what’s happening around me and looking for fresh ideas.
I live in 2013, and I’ve said this before, I want to be a product of an artist living in today. There is no point in producing something that has no reason for it. I’m very influenced by everything that happens through the media, television, newspapers etc. And maybe the shallowness that seems to be creeping into all of our lives I suppose …
What inspires your choice of imagery? I think you’ve partially answered that.
I have partially answered that. I’m very inspired by the facade that we are presented with, the facade of celebrity, beauty, something which is attractive, or achievable without working towards it. There is no such thing as far as I’m concerned, if you want any longevity you have to really work and work and work and create a structural situation for yourself, laying down foundations.
Any favourites among your fellow artists?
I’m inspired by lots of different artists for different reasons. I mean I think if you look at the most recent artists like Andy Warhol who looked at art in a very different way, it was all achievable as far as he was concerned. Everyone could possibly own a piece of his art through the process that he produced, sold, dealt and distributed his work and I admire that.
Because what he didn’t do, he didn’t cheapen his art, he didn’t compromise the quality and the standards that he produced his work through, he was constant but he still said,”Look, you can have this, everyone can have this”, and I admire that. Does art have a function, if so what? Art has a function in so that we should all be able to learn something from it. It shouldn’t be art for the sake of it.
It shouldn’t just be shock art, for the sake of it. If there is a reason for doing it you should be able to convey that and it doesn’t mean that everyone should be able to understand it, as long as someone gets something from it: good, bad or indifferent. You don’t have to love it, as long as they don’t forget it.
by Justin van Vliet with additional reporting by Benjamin Lovegrove
For more information about Stuart McAlpine Miller visit Castle Galleries