Although painter Joseph Loughborough denies clairvoyance, he sees something in his subjects that others don’t. In his paintings he often disfigures the human form—most often the face. Sometimes the results are heartbreakingly beautiful, other times they are grotesque, but they always evoke emotion from the viewer. Despite the emotional intelligence of his work, in speaking with him he seems completely in-touch with his ability to visually express the subconscious. So, despite the fact he can see the world and its people and all we try to hide, he’s still just a nice, fun, happy guy. To look at his paintings is to see people through his eyes, and although disturbing at first view, perhaps the ability to see the truth about a person—and helping them see it—is the secret to happiness. We are happy to bring you the work of Joseph Loughbourough.
stated: Please describe your work in a few sentences.
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: Old sun-baked wrecks of wooden and steel boats sinking into the yards and creeks that have forgotten them. Distorted faces and bodies. Morbid to some. Victorian. Faces and people sailing through good and bad platforms of their life. Blocks of colour. Sinister films and poems catching the eye of perverted voyeurs. Obsessive-compulsive, mark-making, tagging and skateboarding. Rain.
stated: Are your paintings based on real people? Who are they and how are they selected? Is there a personal relationship that inspires the end result?
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: This depends on which painting and how I’m feeling! I love to make portraiture but often find it hard to try and convey someone else without my own emotions encroaching into the work, saturating my interpretation. I guess I brutalize portraits of people I know, and so only draw people who will not get upset when they see what a mess I have made of them! I think my creative spark always comes from more—to risk sounding farty—“existential” ideas, rather than portraiture. I like to use the human form in all its beautiful variations to explore these ideas. As a Vehicle. I don’t really have any set sources of reference. If a magazine cutting I encounter triggers a creative response, I am just as happy to feed from that inspiration as I would be drawing from life with an intimate partner. With a great deal of my work, I use no reference at all and carve figures and faces from random marks and structures when I’m exploring a medium. With this process and using found photos, I don’t have to worry about pissing any one off!
stated: Sometimes in your paintings I see what appears to be a layer of handwriting. Is that handwriting, or intended to look like handwriting, and what does it say or imply?
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: Sometimes the text describes parts of a story within a work. Other times it can be my thoughts unhinged. Automatic. Collections of unrelated words and letters. Hand-style and tagging has always fascinated me. All my sketch books were obsessively scribbled over. They still are. This translates over into larger works. Aside from the beauty of calligraphy, I believe the marks that the letters make can often mean more to me than what they dictate.
stated: When I look at your work, I think of accelerated decay. Beautiful, sensual and concurrently grotesque. You can see the aging process, and the psychological chaos that is contained by the mind of the subject. It’s as though you see that in your subjects and bring it to the surface for us…and there is great appeal to that. I’m not calling you a clairvoyant, but are you translating something for us in your paintings? Am I anywhere near to your creative process?
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: LOL! I guess clairvoyants always did well in projecting themselves onto other people! We all have a cauldron bubbling away. It’s the bits that sink to the bottom that I attempt to empathize, express, and for me, more than likely, exercise.
stated: When you are not painting what are you doing?
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: Drinking tea, traveling back and forth to Paris to see Audrey, my girlfriend, skateboarding and reading. Most of the above is done with a sketchbook somewhere nearby to scribble sweet nothings into.
INDIGO ASKED JOSEPH…
Each artist we feature on stated is asked to look at the work of another stated artist and think of one question to ask them about their work. We asked Indigo to ask Joseph Loughborough a question. This is what she asked:
INDIGO: When I look at your work, the pieces that draw me in most contain a delicate balance between chaos and calm, frenzy and control. The marks themselves, chaotic, but the figures often seem poised, even thoughtful. I noticed this dichotomy most in the work from your Vitry show—Claudia and The Road in particular. What inspires you to distort and obscure the human face/figure? Can you speak a bit about this process? How much of the finished work is planned and how much is based on intuition?
JOSEPH LOUGHBOROUGH: My work bounces from the occasional technical study to the complete abstract. The vitry pieces are a playful exploration of the balance of the two. I feel my work is more genuine the less form there is, but can’t help resisting the pleasure of creating recognizable elements within a work! Perhaps this is a communication to other people rather than to my self. I have always found a great deal of beauty in distortion and the grotesque.
View Joseph’s work at: