Interview with Robert Hope-Johnstone

Robert Hope-Johnstone

FAULT spoke with young artist Robert Hope-Johnstone about his work, what is like to be a young artist full time and the types of themes he sees emerging in the London art scene.

FAULT: Can you explain your medium and your working process?

Rob: Through all my choices of mediums I am a traditionalist, however dealing with contemporary concepts. I work primarily in charcoal on Bockingford paper where the granulated surface creates the effect of a digital bitmap or pointillist aesthetic on paper, and this is all drawn by hand.

F: Even though you work with various mediums, which are you drawn to most?

R: I allow the materials to work for me, and to feel confident in my choice of medium is very important. I enjoy using charcoal because I can use it to create ambient light and perpetual darkness.

F: What themes do you tackle within your work?

R: I deal with the sublime in a contemporary yet traditional manner, being interested in the forces of nature and terror. I see it as a question of self- reflection.

F: Which artists inspire your work?

R: Artists who have dealt with the sublime in the Turbine Hall of the Tate have intrigued me such as Miroslaw Balka, Anish Kapoor and Oalfur Eliasson. These artists have had a direct impact on the public.

F: As a young artist, do you feel you encounter more obstacles?

R: To be honest, coming to terms with being an artist as my chosen career has been my greatest obstacle. I didn’t want to see the study and career path of art as a short term ambition, I see it as a life long challenge and you will be tested throughout discovering what the subject means to you. At 23 I do feel young and I’m excited but eager to indulge in all factors of life and therefore I turn to literature such as the Marquis De Sade to create a broader understanding of life’s darker topics. (Not to personally indulge or re-enact but to broaden my knowledge of life.)

F: Where do you feel the art scene is heading in London? Do you see any patterns and themes emerging with young artists?

R: The Internet has had a huge impact in the creative visual output of today’s young artists. Blogging and re-blogging of images has become a resourceful research tool for the young contemporary artists. This however makes trends move incredibly quickly which can devalue the image but also creates a vast visual library that keeps young artists on their toes.

F: If you weren’t an artist, what career path would you be heading?

R: Creativity and self-expression have driven me to my career path. If I was doing anything else, in my eyes, it would be deemed a lie.