Kingston Poplar: With Beautiful Pleasure

Kingston Poplar

Artwork’s Title: With Beautiful Pleasure
Material Used: Acrylic Paint on canvas
Studio Based: British Virgin Islands
Kingston Poplar, With Beautiful Pleasure, 2023, Acrylic Paint on canvas. 76.2 cm x 101.6 cm

Can you tell us about the process of making your work?

For example, the airbrush painting technique seems to dominate your artistic approach on canvases. It’s funny you say that, I don’t actually use an airbrush, I just use your standard synthetic brushes and acrylic paint. My process is one of both pre planned and intuitive decisions. I usually start off with an idea of the image in my head, this image is sparked by a memory, event, or something I’ve seen in real life or online. I then sketch and colour the idea digitally, I’ve found this saves a lot of time and allows space for freedom in editing and building the composition. Using the digital sketch as a reference I then draw out the composition straight onto canvas without using guidelines or a scale grid. This is a style choice, I like my natural hand to come through in the final drawing and I embrace the imperfections it brings. I then proceed to paint starting first with the background and slowly working my way forward. Throughout the process I purposely leave empty space within my composition to allow influence from outside the painting to enter the scene. This keeps the painting fresh and exciting as there are always new references appearing that were originally unplanned.

How would you define your work in a few words (ideally in 3 words)?

Freedom, Figure, Dream.

Could you share with us some insights on your painting, titled ‘With Beautiful Pleasure’ (2023)? Is there any particular story behind this new work?

Yes indeed there is! This painting is based on a specific memory of mine. The location takes place at a slightly distorted version of the house I’m currently living in. The subject (loosely representative of myself) collects tamarind from a tree, and is accompanied by an abundance of objects and artefacts which are telling of our times. These include Airpods, a lateral flow test, a Vivienne Westwood necklace and a Godzilla t-shirt among others. These references are originally unrelated, but once on the same picture plane form a dialogue, creating new narratives which reveal themselves over time. Conceptually this places the scene in a hypothetical space, where things seem to exist without context, echoing social media and its ephemeral and incoherent content. Everything in this painting has impacted my life in some way big or small, and they all work together to form a narrative. I feel like only time will tell me why that is.

Based on recent paintings of yours such as ‘Discipline’, ‘Guest Experience’ or ‘The Delivery’, it seems that there is a fascination on enlarged body parts or other distended items on your canvases which characterise your visual compositions; do these sorts of motifs have a deeper meaning or interest to you as a painter?

I change and distort certain aspects of the composition be it subject, object or perspective as a way of setting my work aside from reality. It allows me to create a world that has all the things the real world has but it’s not quite the same and the same rules don’t apply. Long arms, legs and big shoulders suggest a warped and fluid state, as with the long stretched out perspective of ‘With Beautiful Pleasure’ creating a dreamlike habitat. I think this process is a way of me playing with properties and seeking out new ways to distort them.

Have specific artworks been created by random experiments in your studio or do you usually come up with a particular concept or narrative in the very beginning of your artistic process?

At the moment I work a full time job to support my practice so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time to play around in the studio and experiment. Each painting usually begins as an image in my head and is sparked by something I’ve seen, a specific event or a memory. I then build around the image and let it form freely, making sure I don’t think too much (if at all) about any specific concept or narrative. I try as much as I can to let the painting grow of its own accord, including motifs and references that work compositionally. Only later do I think about how these things relate to one another and what concept or narrative is created.

Would you say as an artist that your art practice is open to interpretations to your audience or do you try to have a more straightforward direction or position about what you create? Or is it something in the middle?

The interpretation of my audience is absolutely a key part of my work. My favourite thing about making paintings is hearing people’s interpretations on what they thought was happening in the scene and why certain aspects are included and what it means to them. I think not only does it reveal links in my work that I never even considered or realised myself, but it also tells me a lot about the person. In a way I guess I let my audience do all the work when it comes to figuring out what these painted scenes tell.

Can you mention any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?

I recently discovered the work of Joan Brown which I’ve been particularly excited about. I love her use of bold flat colour, patterns and personal imagery. Other inspirations are Henri Rousseau, Alex Katz David Hockney, and Camille Bomboise. Contemporary painters: Sarah Anstis, Jonas Wood, Charlie Roberts, Bridget Mullen and Louise bonnet I all love amongst others.

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space look like?

I currently live on a tiny remote Island in the middle of the Caribbean sea so studio spaces are hard to come by. I work from home at the moment, in a room with a beautiful view of the sea and surrounding islands so it’s very inspiring.

What are your plans for the near future?

Currently I just began working on a series of paintings that will explore my life and surroundings here in the Virgin Islands. ‘With Beautiful Pleasure’ being the first in this series, I’m excited to see how they unfold.

Additional Paintings

Kingston Poplar, Meal on the Estate, 2021, Acrylic Paint on paper, 30.5 x 40.5 cm
Kingston Poplar, Guest Experience, 2022, Acrylic Paint, 29.7 x 42 cm
Kingston Poplar, Walk the Bull and Hear the Sounds of Insects in the Grass, 2021, Acrylic Paint on paper, 30.5 x 40.5 cm
Kingston Poplar, The Delivery, 2022, Acrylic Paint on paper, 30.5 x 40.5 cm
Kingston Poplar, Downtown ATM, 2021, Acrylic Paint on paper, 30.5 x 40.5 cm


All images courtesy of the artist

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