5 Questions with Leo Fitzmaurice
Leo Fitzmaurice’s pieces often have a simple premise–confusion around material origin and a playful re-forming of space underpins much of his practice–yet they have the ability to shake up the world around them, offering the viewer a glimpse into his or her own assuming eye. The British artist is currently showing at London’s The Sunday Painter.
Can you tell me a little about your current show at The Sunday Painter?
It’s come from something I have been thinking about for a number of years, about fundamental things such as the way we, as creatures, are symmetrical and this being intrinsically connected with our sense of direction; so the idea of front and back. These things inevitably affect the way we see the world and have a massive influence on the things we make for ourselves. It occurred to me, while I was thinking about this work, that architecture is often symmetrical, and also has this same ‘sense of direction’–well a front and a back. So I just wanted to start saying something about this by making work directly in relation to a piece of symmetrical architecture, in this case the space of The Sunday Painter.
How do you begin work on a piece like this? Did you have a very clear idea of what should go where or has it been created quite organically?
No I did not have a clear idea about the specifics initially, but as I thought about the context I realized all I needed already existed, and just needed to be arranged. The gallery, in between shows, is a place filled with the most mundane and familiar tools, packaging and equipment existing in practical, rather than aesthetic, relation to one another. I realized that by mirroring these seemingly random arrangements the practical would become aesthetic in some way and we might appreciate the objects in a new way. I have to say I also had a lot of input from the guys at the gallery and their technicians who have had much more experience of the way things go, between shows, in the space.
Do you hope for your pieces to create confusion, or a greater sense of clarity?
I am interested in both. In a way what we see as a sense of clarity often is confusion. The way we see the world is based fundamentally on our make up as creatures. I was reading an interview with the scientist Carlo Rovelli yesterday, who said many things we base our thinking on like time and our sense of up and down are actually just perceptual illusions caused by our make up.
Looking at your wider practice, does it tend to be the original object or a wider idea that sparks off new work?
I guess generally it’s when the two come together–I think when a new feeling or concept can be manifested in some way I find this very exciting.
We were big fans of Litter at Frieze Sculpture Park last year—and soon it’s moving to YSP. Do you feel it’s best suited to this kind of display than the typical gallery space, which much of your work plays with directly?
Ah, Litter, glad you enjoyed it, thanks for that. Well I like my work to respond to context–at least to acknowledge it in some way–and so Litter is doing its thing in a similar way. Litter’s had quite a long gestation too, it started as an observation a number of years back. I was driving to give a talk at a college and passed what I thought to be a field with white rabbits. It was only as I continued my journey that I realized white rabbits do not occur naturally–certainly not in England–so on my return I stopped the car to find they were actually bags discarded after a picnic.
It was a lovely moment, the rabbit being an ancient cultural symbol of fertility going back to hunter gather times, and me in a field with all this shite.
‘OH V HO’ is showing at The Sunday Painter until 16 July. All images courtesy the artist and The Sunday Painter.