Marcus Aitken: SP1

Marcus Aitken

Artwork’s Title: SP1

Materials Used: acrylic, pencil  and ink on plywood, 82 x 62 cm

Studio Based: London, UK

Marcus Aitken, SP1, acrylic, pencil and ink on plywood, 82 x 62 cm, 2020

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

Before any of my brushes touch paint, there is a fair amount of preparation, especially as I’m working a lot with wood now, it’s quite labour intensive cutting and sanding the surfaces down but it’s all part of the process and informs the painting to come. My work is very intuitive and gestural so I think my ‘speed of attack’ as well as the mood I am in will always come across in the work.

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

Punchy, raw, gestural.

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

Paul McCarthy – although his work is very different to mine, I’ve always really loved his sheer confidence and the ability to create memorable and of-the-time works. I’m also really inspired how his work spans across all mediums – which is something I’d like to be able to do as my career progresses. 

You recently launched your virtual exhibition Now + Never via softpunkmag, could you provide us some more details about this new exhibition?

The idea for the exhibition was formed after Jacob, the editor from Soft Punk, came to my studio to discuss creating 5 exclusive works to feature in the third issue. I began the work right as Covid kicked in, so the series I created worked as a sort of ‘lockdown’ series and draws inspiration from the constant ups and downs, frustrations and new beginnings that I, as well as the world around me was co-experiencing at the time.

Are there any additional details would you be regarding your new painting SP1? Is there any story behind this painting?

This piece was the first in the series of works I made for the Now + Never show. I suppose this work holds a particular importance for me as it sets the tone and mood for the rest of the works in the show. Previous to this, there was a false start on another piece, which has since been sanded down to make way for something else. After I finished this initial piece, something didn’t really sit right for me (which often happens) so it had to go. I felt a bit lost to be honest, which is never a good feeling at the start of a project!…but ,as soon as I finished this final SP1 work, it just felt right…it was also the first piece to sell as soon as the show opened so that was a nice pat on the back to solidify my own thoughts about it…I know an artist shouldn’t judge their own work on what sells and what doesn’t but sometimes it’s hard to ignore.

How do you know when a painting is finished?

This is a bit of a lame answer but ‘you just know’. Years ago I used to paint in my brothers kitchen and there was always constant comments from his housemates, like ‘ohh nice, I like that you should leave it there’ or ‘what are going to do with that part?…ohh, ok, really?’ …It was quite hard not to be deterred by all the comments (although they were coming from a loving place as they were mates of mine also). Since having my own studio space, the process and end point are completely undisturbed now. I am definitely guilty of overdoing a work though, it happens. As Orange Juiceonce sang ‘Rip it up and start again’. 

What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?

I’ve been in my current studio space for nearly a year now. It’s a loft space in South London, which is a 10minute cycle from my flat. I absolutely love it. It’s a good size which has meant I am able to work on bigger pieces now, which has been limited in the past for me. I’ve also started geeking out over buying nice tools like a circular saw and a proper drill…its stuff I’ve always wanted and needed for my practice, as I work a lot with wood now, so it feels really good to be prepared and have the right tools when I need them instead of calling around mates to borrow their tools.

What do you hope audiences will take from your work?

I’ve always made a point of not putting too much meaning on my work as I’ve always wanted people to feel a connection to my work in one way or another…that’s ultimately the most important thing for me. I want my audience to be affected by my work, love it or hate it. I put a lot of feeling into my painting which I think comes across in the mark making, so I guess its emotion, that’s what I want my audience to take away.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning, come 6pm my brain starts shut down mode….it does depend though as I’m often up against deadlines so have to work into the night but I try to avoid that as I think natural light is really important for my painting process.

Is the glass half empty or half full?


Which are your plans for the near future?

I think 2021 is going to be a really good year. I’ve got a residency in London and Italy lined up as well as a solo show in August. I was supposed to be exhibiting in New York and Switzerland earlier this year so Covid-dependant that’s also on the cards. Whatever happens, I’ll keep painting and showing my work whatever the world throws at me.

Additional Images

Marcus Aitken, Now + Never with Soft Punk at Walluso Gallery, London
Marcus by @freddie
Marcus Aitken, Sp5, acrylic, ink and pencil on structural plywood, 123 x 91cm, 2020
Story Behind The Painting | Interview with Marcus Aitken | Virtual Exhibition
Marcus Aitken, Now + Never with Soft Punk at Walluso Gallery, London


All images are courtesy of the artist & SoftPunkMag

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