MARCUS COATES: 'ANSWER PAINTING' AND ARTISAN OIL COLOUR
This summer, for the first time in 25 years, Coates returned to painting, using an ambitious public project as his platform. Featured as part of the Barbican Centre's Station to Station exhibition in London, Coates’ venture was entitled Answer Painting. Visitors were invited to ask him questions, which they left on cards pinned to the walls, and Coates painted answers to their enquries. He or she who asked a question returned a week later to discuss the painting, and together the artist and viewer derived mutual insights from painting and query alike.
|The pin board of questions at the Barbican Centre|
Spending a month painting in a public gallery, every detail of the installation was meaningful to the project – not least of all the artist materials Coates chose, which included a selection of Winsor & Newton Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour.
We recently spoke to Coates about the inventive exhibition, the paint he used, and his experience engaging in public dialogue via painting.
There were so many questions to choose from, but the ones that stood out were the very personal and honest questions. Often the children's questions were great to work with. One seven-year-old asked, “How do you get it perfect?” This seemed to be a question about painting itself, so the painting became a diagram of different ideas and perceptions of perfection.
| How do you get it perfect? a work created using Artisan Water
Mixable Oil Colour
Other questions like, “How does society create a consensus?”, “Does time heal?” or, “Will I be remembered?” were all fascinating to work with. I gravitated towards questions I had no idea how to answer. The point was that the paint would create an answer itself. I was a conduit to allow this to happen. The hardest part was to not get in the way of the painting making itself.
|Does time heal? a work created using Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour|
You used Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour exclusively for the whole project. Why did you choose it for Answer Painting?
In the Barbican Art Gallery, hundreds of people came through my studio every day, so it was imperative that they weren't exposed to anything toxic, like solvent fumes. Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour paints are known for their non-hazardous nature, so they were perfect for this project. I also find they’re particularly easy to clean up. Being water-mixable, all I needed was soap and water.
|Will I be remembered? a work created using Artisan Water Mixable Oil Colour|
Clearly, Artisan is a favourite for you. What personal tips can you share for using it?
I still have a lot of experimenting and testing I want to do, but I would say using the mediums opens up the potential and possibilities of the paint. Throughout all the various ways I used the paint, I found a 50/50 mix of Artists’ Painting Medium and water created a flow and consistency that I loved working with.
I think the main reaction I had when using these paints was one of fun. Something about using water with the paints took me back to being a child again, which released me from being inhibited by the medium. This is when the magic started to happen for me.