► Martin Edenik: Hi, Mungo! In your website you confide that trying to feel the
colour is more important for you than just observing it. Can we say that each
of your paintings is a more or less random quest, insofar as your job depends
on your feelings (which fall within the subjectivity)? Is this why you say your
works they are «hard-won»?
► Mungo Powney: The phrase «the hard-won image» is the title of a book about the London school particularly Francis Bacon and
Frank Auerbach amongst other emigré artists. I believe that there is a point when the artist really pushes himself
that they start to «bleed». Normally at this point the painting veers towards an unexpected poetic
► Martin Edenik: Among the various criteria that guide you in developing your
colors, you mention their «power» and also «a light to enlighten the inside». Would you be a kind of Inner Worlds Gauguin?
► Mungo Powney: I think artists like Van Gogh or Gauguin were able to take
enormous risks and be very brave with colour. More emotional and less observed.
Up until this point most artists added colour to a predictable tonal framework.
Obviously they also let out their inner world so well but I think this was
helped because they had thrown away their crutches, so to speak. At the end of
the day a landscape means most when it is closest to the inner world.
► Martin Edenik: According to you a good painting «is a bit like a battery in which the artist has trapped some power». Could you explain this view?
► Mungo Powney: I love the Nabis. I think that mainly through contrasts artists can store
power. Contrasts of colour. Richness and poverty of marks and subject. Contrasts of symbols can be extraordinarily powerful. I love
to contrast very rich fruit in a beautiful bowl with a bill in a brown envelope
or the youth of a teenage girl walking past the shadow of a church. All these things
create a strange power.
► Martin Edenik: Among your favourite themes,
ordinary scenes of family life, a sense of lasting happiness seem the most
precious, the dearest to your heart. Some of your pictures even look like a «freeze frame», as if you wanted to freeze forever a perfect moment. Is that the case?
A search of the inner color
A graduate of the University of Newcastle, Mungo Powney has exhibited in various galleries in the UK and currently (*) in New York at the Edgar Modern
Gallery. Obsessed with the « inner light » and «emotional harmony» he is in the tradition of the Nabis , the Post-Impressionist movement that
rebelled against academic painting of the late nineteenth century to the early
twentieth. Family reminiscences and feelings of happiness related to privacy,
seeking an inner « visceral » energy, are the favourite sources of inspiration for this demanding artist.
Sink with 2 beetroot (oil painting – 86 x 82)
The raddish growers (oil painting – 115 x 96)
Mungo Powney – Photo: Anna Powney.
► Mungo Powney: I never really analyse them. I generally write down a few key words and have a
vague idea about the feeling of the colours. I then spend a few days in silence
drawing the painting to me, trying to work out what it is about and what is in
it. But they are never intended to be a perfect life. I try to shy away from
► Martin Edenik: Another source of inspiration: the landscapes of Mayenne, where
you live with your wife and two children. What do you like in this area?
► Mungo Powney: I generally gravitate towards the houses of the old people. They have more colour. They are less
afraid of the world but most importantly there is an urgency to paint them as
their world is at 5 to midnight. It is a bit like the romantic landscape
painting that happened in the industrial revolution. I think you always have
more desire to paint something that is threatened.
► Martin Edenik: You currently expose in New York. Can you tell us about this
► Mungo Powney: ...This year I did the Affordable Art Fair with Edgar Modern.
► Martin Edenik: What are your artistic plans for the coming years?
► Mungo Powney: I want to paint a big city. Again a contrast to the Mayenne. I love the absurdity of trying to a large painting in the rain at night with a lamp in a rough part of
the city. I meet all the lunatics. I love cities, there is always so much
action and symbolism. Saplings and concrete.
► Martin Edenik: Knowing that our planet is about to be destroyed, what are the three painters whose works you would save ? (If you had the power)…
► ► Mungo Powney: I am too much of an optimist to believe that. I would go with Van Gogh. Matisse.
And Richard Diebenkorn.
► Martin Edenik: Three things you like? And three things you hate?
► Mungo Powney: Hate... Bullying. Snobbery... and René Magritte Like... Bravery. Intimacy. Motorcycles.
► Martin Edenik: What is your final word?
► Mungo Powney: I like the Leonard Cohen line : «You're living for nothing now, I hope you're keeping some kind of a record»... I suppose in some way that is all art is.
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