Vincent Poole: Humour, Perspective and the Launch of New Cut-Out Editions at LUMAS Gallery

As a nod to the timeless paper-cuts of Henri Matisse and Alex Katz, LUMAS Gallery have launched a new series of contemporary cut-outs by artist Vincent Poole that play on an innovative method of presenting art in an utilitarian form. Poole’s life sized images invite humour, intrigue, a pursuit for novelty in perspective as well as the inserting of a playful challenge on traditional notions of how art should be experienced.

Vincent’s work oscillates between dissecting the physical personality, without eliminating the elementary aspects of appeal and allure that many modern-day individuals relate to. The fine silhouettes and vibrant colours used in his cut-outs act as a catalyst for capturing the attention of audiences – but it’s the dramatic detail that keeps them enquiring. After Nyne met with Vincent to discuss his new collection at LUMAS this summer, the creative journey in turning random chaos into sensible order and the underlying importance of perspective.

Blue Eyes, 2015 © Vincent Poole
Blue Eyes, 2015 © Vincent Poole

Tell me a little about the creative process involved in selecting the right images for your cut-out figures, how do you choose what goes where?

You’ve kicked-off with a very good question Luciana. Finding the correct profile image is exceptionally difficult and this process consumes a great deal of our time. We trawl through thousands of images in hundreds of fashion magazines and photographic libraries before we find a profile that may work as a collage. We then project the image at the size that we will make the collage to see if there are any problems or alterations we need to make such as changing the hair style, adding a hand bag or a dog or turning the head to make a more interesting head profile, perhaps adding a set of ear rings or a belt, a bow in the hair. All these details add to the story within the collage.

The individual images contained within the collage are less difficult to source. Each collage is about a particular London location for example Chelsea, Soho, Camden, Southbank, Hampstead, Notting Hill Gate, Shoreditch and the City. I’ll shoot hundreds of images at these locations of the products, shop names, services, Brands, Street signs, graphics and typography within each of these areas which are then cropped and edited back at the studio. What goes where appears quite random but in fact each individual coloured image must resonate with the image it sits next to – random chaos coerced into a sense of order. Resulting in each collage becoming a demographic reflection of the specific London Location.

How does your background with sculpture influence the way you approach the human figure in your collages?

I don’t think my background in sculpture has any major influence on how I approach the figure but sculpture has without doubt has influenced the three dimensional aspect of my collages. 

A commonly overseen characteristic your collage cut-outs when published online is how substantial they are in size. What inspires your decision to produce them on such an epic scale?

I’m glad you think the scale of the collages are ‘epic’. I would actually like to make them bigger if I could but I’m limited by the size of the white board which is only manufactured at 240cm x 120cm. Because I work using the figure the closer the collages are to life size the more impact they seem to have. A viewer standing in front of a life size or over life size collage will interact with the piece differently than if the piece was half life size. Because there is no visual information outside the profile the complete focus of the viewer is the figure and because the figure is near to life size it has an equal presence to the viewer. 

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Lucky Mutt, 2014 © Vincent Poole (left) London Diva © Vincent Poole (right)

How important is perspective in your practice? 

Detail is very important. ‘Craft’ which is often looked down upon in the Fine Art world as detracting from the ‘narrative’ a very over used word in the world of Fine Art. From a distance people sometimes think that my collages are one image put together on Photoshop. It is not until they are much closer that they realise each image contained within the collage has been painstakingly hand cut and pinned into place taking hundreds of hours. This realisation that the collages have been crafted and are hand built has always had a positive effect – to my knowledge no one has every said“I don’t like that, it’s too well made”. My neurotic drive for detail and precession can never actually be met because we’re human, we make artworks with our hands and therefore there will be imperfections and perversely it’s the minor imperfections in a collage that I like because they remind me of the process involved.

Many artists feel the need to produce work that appeals to the masses, understandably to make ends meet. As an artist, how do you find the balance between exploring creative pursuits without losing a sense of self in commissions and the pursuit of money?

I think that any artist that is able to make a living from people spending their hard earned salaries on their art is an incredibly fortunate position to be in. I am doubly fortunate because much of my work is about brands and commercialism and I don’t lose sleep when people want to buy an artwork. I don’t consider a piece finished until it is sold and only once it is sold is the circle completed. The prices of original collages often increase and become out of reach for many. Unless one wants to operate in a tiny niche market frequented only by the very affluent, it’s important not to lose sight of those that like my work but perhaps can’t afford an original collage, which is why I make more attainable artworks such as the new Cut-outs in collaboration with LUMAS Galleries. So for me personally it’s not about milking a market and appealing to the masses but getting people on board to join and play a part with what we’re making at the studio. 

What’s the one instrument you could not live without in your studio?

A sense of humor.

What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

We’re working on a totally new range of artworks incorporating Vogue Magazine front covers, using black and white printed images but also using paint. Looking at magazines all day – how lucky is that?

Vincent’s Poole’s cut-outs can be viewed at LUMAS Gallery
57 South Molton Street

Mon-Sat 10am-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm

Featured image: Blue Eyes (Work in progress) – all images courtesy of LUMAS.

Vincent Poole was speaking exclusively with After Nyne’s Arts Editor, Luciana (@LucPierra)