An Interview with Keith Brighthouse


What made you become an artist?

I’ve always drawn and painted with no real ambition but I never really consciously wanted to be an artist, I just followed my interests and went where they led me. That said, I remember a teacher at junior school showing the class some “modern art’ and talking about colours and shapes. Years later I realised the paintings were hard-edged abstraction and the one that stuck in my mind was Red Green and Blue by Ellsworth Kelly It must have been hot off the easel at the time. I remember being fascinated by it so it did leave and impression but I’m not sure in what way, if at all, it made me want to be a artist. When I was working in Rotterdam in the late seventies, my girlfriend persuaded me to take my work drawings and paintings along to Rotterdam Academy. I ended up doing a painting course there. After returning to England, I met an art teacher who encouraged me to apply for a place at Sheffield Polytechnic, where I studied sculpture.

What is your work about?

That’s a difficult one. It’s easier to say anything and everything. I try to avoid being fixed to both style and content. Style ends up being a brand if you are successful and then you end up making a product for the market rather than being creative. Content can become an obsession that turns an artist into a monument. A lot of my work is about process, while some is didactic and very much about the message but I don’t want my work to be static, I want it to change as my interests change. I suppose I should pin myself down. On one level I suppose my work is about the pointless and the absurd while at the same time, there has always been a seam of eroticism going through my work which surfaces from time to time. I suppose I am quite consciously schizophrenic, eclectic and random when it comes to what my work is about. It’s not the way to build an art career, quite the opposite but I’m more interested in the creative process than a career.


What are your art methods?

I usually work in series. Sometimes thematic in style and content such as a series of prints based on philosophers , sometimes in substance, as a series of absurd work called Burnt Lemon . I hit upon a subject that interests me and then I consider what is the best medium and style to achieve what I want to say. Though sometimes, I don’t want to say anything, I am just searching and the end result is what it is.

What mediums do you work with?

I do not stick to one medium. I draw, paint, print, sculpt and I will do all in any particular medium that is convenient or feels right for the task in hand. Like content and style, I don’t like to be pinned down by medium. Though probably over the years, printing, mainly etching, has been my chosen medium, as with clay, when it comes to sculpture.


Which genre best describes your art practice and why?

There is a strong conceptual strand through my work though I don’t particularly like conceptual art. I suppose I seem myself as an absurdist, though because of expectations, I tend to edit my work for exhibitions. I would prefer to exhibit my work unedited because that would be a more honest way to exhibit it but convincing galleries to exhibit my work that way is difficult.

What people/ artists inspire your work?

Dieter Roth, Dieter Roth, Dieter Roth and Dieter Roth. I’m also a poetry fan, which often informs my work. I’m crazy about the Belgian poet Hugo Claus.


Do you have any upcoming exhibitions?

I’ve just had a series of exhibitions and now I am busy working on a submission to a culture magazine and a personal project, which is an emblemata , a book of etchings and poetry. The emblemata, which is a modern take and a format that was popular a couple of hundred years ago, is about working in a studio with a series of life study models. Of course, it is more than simple life studies, there is a psychological side to the project. I have a venue for exhibiting the prints towards the end of the year, assuming the prints end up interesting enough but nothing will be finalised before the project is complete..

'Portrait Joz'
‘Portrait Joz’

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Author: Helen Ingram

Self Published author, artist, interviewer and owner of New Art United