In anticipation of leading contemporary Australian artist Brooklyn Whelan’s upcoming exhibition at Nelly Duff this March, we harnessed the magical power of technology to have a chat with Sydney-based Whelan about his artworks, influences and hip hop.
ND: Firstly welcome to London! You have a huge and varied UK fanbase over here who love your colourful skyscapes, are you looking forward to seeing how your new works are received in London?
BW: Most definitely! It’ll be my first show here, so I’m super hyped and looking forward to meeting some new people at the show who enjoy my work.
ND: When you started your career as an artist did you start working with clouds right away or was it more of a progression into your signature style?
BW: I started painting a long time ago and I was always trying to find my feet in the whole art game. It’s taken a lot of experimenting with a heap of mistakes to get to this point. Coming from Australia we have such large skies – I’ve always been a fan of clouds and storm systems – we get some great ones along the coast where I live, so I guess it was subconsciously always there, I just had to paint it.
ND: Your new show features some artworks that form triptychs, is this something you have always done or is this something you have started exploring more recently?
BW: Most of my shows have some kind of triptych element. I like the way the works can flow between the canvases – it also opens up the opportunity for the paintings to live as sets or be broken up and maybe one day reunited.
There’s a kind of cool romance to that.
ND: The science of cloud patterns isn’t something most people are familiar with, do you get inspiration for your artworks from real life formations or do you draw more from your imagination?
BW: It’s a great mixture of both. I always go from my head and don’t use references. I just make a start and let them organically form themselves. But in saying that, I’m constantly taking mental pics of things I see.
ND: The colour palette you assign to your artworks gives the epic scenes so much depth, the combination of lighter pastel tones with greys, blacks and in some cases burning reds. Do you ever take inspiration from Old Master apocalyptic imagery from artists like John Martin?
BW: Absolutely! He’s definitely one of my favourite artists. I’m looking forward to checking out his work “The Great Day of His Wrath” at the Tate when I’m there. I’m stoked you recognised some similarities. He’s a master!
ND: Did the fact that this exhibition was going to take place in London (who’s skies are notoriously grey) rather than sunny Sydney affect what works you chose to include?
BW: Not so much – I’ve kept the show to my traditional palette which I’m better known for.
ND: Your paintings depict the sublime and epic, do you like to listen to epic music while you paint, or do you need silence to concentrate?
BW: Music definitely changes the pace at which I work. I’m a huge hip hop head, so there’s a lot of head nodding going on (ha.) But silence and just breathing is also a good thing to slow it down and go deep into the details.
ND: Nelly Duff have been printing Brooklyn Whelan editions for the last few years now, what is it about the medium of print that you enjoy? And is it a medium you like seeing your artworks in?
BW: It’s great and it’s been amazing working with the crew at Nelly Duff. Printed works allow me to explore different colour ways and options like the ‘Fantastic Fade’ run we did. It’s also a great way to find your way into people’s collections who might not be ready for an original.
ND: If you had to (had to!) pick a favourite piece from ‘Pressure’, which one would it be?
BW: Oh wow.. that’s a hard one. I really dig the new work ‘Marching into the Sun’ It’s a different format and size from my usual works. I’m hoping it’s received well.
ND: And one last thing, what celebratory drink should we have waiting for you on your arrival to Nelly Duff?
BW: A G & T (Hendricks) with a slice of cucumber, Thanks.
‘Pressure’ will be on show to the public from 8th – 14th March, with a Private View on the evening of Thursday March 7th, 6pm-8.30pm. To RSVP to the private view please follow the link below.