Jon Pilkington Reveals An Admirably Calculated Confusion Between Abstraction and Figuration

Jon Pilkington (b.1990) is primarily an abstract painter without rejecting a striking natural tendency to a more figurative representation. In fact, Pilkington’s most recent body of work demonstrates a critical challenge to a continuous battle between abstract and figurative work. The artist bridges these two art styles creating a stimulating dialogue on canvases. His struggle renders a sharp quality edging to his artistry, since it is the solid labour that defines the prime line of differentiation between figuration and abstraction. Characteristic thick gestures and unrigorous strokes construct Pilkington’s painterly compositions described by him as sickly, awkward and dry.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
Jon Pilkington, Installation ViewMarket Art Fair, Stockholm March 2017, image courtesy of the artist
A rich combination of colours intertwines with his complex depictions creating an atmosphere of an efficiently calculated chaos. The visual impact of his colour combinations allures the viewer’s gaze suggesting a stimulating thinking around his colour theory; the artist’s involvement with colour is rather apparent as he seems to put a great emphasis on a polychromatic array underlying an enchanting interplay of colour mixing. Pilkington’s painting arrangements are not planned in advanced, but progressed without careful consideration allowing each work to get developed organically until his cohesive painting result is successfully affirmed.
Jon Pilkington, One six, stopped by highwayman, 2017, oil and wax crayon on canvas, 80 x 60 cm, image courtesy of the artist
The artist’s technique sports an integral architectural overtone of colourful underlayers that enclose the remaining surface of his canvases. His paintings are executed in fine array with manifold hues of elegant or bold colours, such as brick reds, earthy browns or less shining purples given by unsteady lines in rhythm. The artist is spirited and confident with his movements in each paintings through which the painterly arrangements examine a visual perspective of spontaneity, freedom and flexibility into a nicely interpolated space.
 Born in Liverpool, Pilkington is an English painter who lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. He studied Fine Arts at University of Lancashire and also completed his postgraduate studies in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. His work has been exhibited internationally in many countries, such as the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Australia, United States, Italy and France.
 In his interview with Art Verge, Jon Pilkington shares his approach on art issues and provides some interesting insights about his daily life. Check it out!
Jon Pilkington, Bild 008, Installation View at Achenbach & Hagemeier Dusseldorf, September 2017, image courtesy of the artist
Art Verge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work? 
Jon Pilkington: Loose drawings made from various source material. Three coats of Gesso & a ground of lead white. Paint layers from crops of drawings.
AV: How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
JP: Sickly, awkward, dry. (like my sense of humour).
AV: Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
JP: Francesco Clemente, Jockum Nordstrom, Alfred Wallis.
Jon Pilkington, Music making couple (flower), 2017, oil and wax crayon on canvas, 190 x 160 cm, image courtesy of the artist
AV: When was the latest video you watched on social media and had an impact on your mood? Which one? 
JP: My friends – @neal_fletcher & @hannahfrancesboulton – dog Ziggy on Insta. I need him in my life.
AV: Creating a new painting is a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
JP: I have found a nice balance between work and social. It helps to be in a good studio group with friends & a fully stocked beer fridge.. or fresh milk for English breakfast.
AV: How do you know when a painting is finished? 
JP: When it sells so I don’t have chance to paint over it again..
Jon Pilkington, Jesters Legs, 2017, oil and wax crayon on canvas, image courtesy of the artist
AV: What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
JP: My studio is in Sydhavn in Copenhagen by the harbour, filled with beautiful light. It involves cycling through the city every morning which is very pleasant, sets me up for the day. Working in Copenhagen feels good & I think it has a calming effect on the work. The pace of life is so different from London which was a much needed change. I can really think about the works I am making without stress from the commute. The process feels less anxious and more relaxed.
AV: Which exhibition did you visit last?
JP: ‘Owners Choice’ at Galleri Bo Bjerggaard gallery, Copenhagen.
AV: What does your mum think about your art?
JP: She’s opening a museum in her garage..
AV: Is the glass half empty or half full?
JP: Brimming with øl.
AV: Which are your plans for the near future? 
JP: Currently juggling studio time with learning Danish. Lethal combo.

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