Artists, Exhibitions, Interviews, VANDAL Gallery

Interview With Tamara Mendels

This month is the launch of Tamara Mendels' exhibition 'ALCHEMICAL SPILLS' at V∆ND∆L Gallery. We caught up with Tamara to find out more about her art and her inspiration.

tamara mendels - art pharmacy

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I always knew that I would do something creative. It wasn’t till I went to art school that I began to study other artists and take painting seriously. When I started selling artwork in my third year, I knew that making paintings could be a real possibility as a career path and it felt really encouraging that people responded to my art in a positive way.

How would you describe your artworks? Are there any particular themes you have in mind when you're working?
I am creating non-objective markings by pouring resin onto a pre-painted canvas.  Some of my pours are loose and uninhibited, violent spills produced out of a rhythmical physical act. Other pours are carefully predetermined as I rehearse the physical act of the marking to play it out like a performance on the canvas. I am always trying to create a marking that is completely new and to do this I try to get to a place of stillness within my mind. My process is quite thrilling, I have only a few minutes to make my marking with almost no room for adjustment as the painting is decided in minutes, its those few intense minutes that keep me coming back to my practice again and again excited for what I might do next.

In addition to being an artist, you are also a curator. Which came first? Has one influenced the other?
I started helping to curate art shows during art school in order to exhibit my own work alongside my contemporaries. With fellow artists Nicholas Pike, Israel Adams, Conrad Ross-Smith, and Sardar Sinjawi we became a small group of artists exhibiting together in artist run spaces in Sydney. In 2009 Nicholas Pike and I moved to New York where we started The Jon Frum Art Foundation, a gallery focussed on exhibiting Australian emerging art to international audiences. With countless exhibitions and participations in art walks and art fairs, we moved to Los Angeles and continued the gallery in downtown LA.  We returned to Sydney and started the first “20/20 art shows” 20 art shows in 20 days, held at the Damien Minton Annex space (2011 and 2012). Curating shows has always been something I do in conjunction with my art practice and with other artists working and playing through ideas together.

You have worked and exhibited all over the world. Is there one city in particular that you enjoy working in?
I have loved showing work in New York, the enthusiasm of art audiences is so encouraging. There are so many people engaged and interested in art, there seems to be an openness where people see that your doing something interesting and they want to be a part of it, we had many artists and writers offering their time to assist for free just to experience something cool. Some of my best paintings came out of a tent inside our loft in Brooklyn, I could barley make more than two works at a time inside a completely air tight dust free tent, my studio was a space in side a space, the limitations of this space saw fewer works being made but I loved those pieces. I loved L.A for the same reasons, L.A was more like Sydney so I felt a sense of familiarity, with great beaches and warm climate, I could live there again if the opportunity presented itself.

Are there any other artists or creatives that you are inspired by?
I am inspired by artists all the time, I feel such excitement when a piece of art moves me to feel a sense of wonderment, this happens when I feel encapsulated and entranced by the work stunned in amazement. My earlier influences came from the Lyrical and Abstract Expressionists such as Sam Francis, Robert Motherwell, Franz Kline and Morris Lewis. A handful of my contemporary influences are artists whose works seem to transport me to another dimension such as; Dan Colan, Stearling Ruby, Dale Frank, Katarina Grosse, Markus Linnenbrink, Jonathan Lasker, Gerhard Richter (abstracts) and Anselm Kieffer.

To see Tamara's exhibition, visit V∆ND∆L Gallery at 16-30 Vine St, Redfern from 8th June - 26th June, open Mon-Fri 10am-5pm