image: asmodeus, 2014
Arts editor Bethany Lester interviews Brazilian-born, Manchester based artist and musician Lindenberg Munroe
Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself as an artist? How long have you been practising for? Did anything in particular inspire you to start out?
I started at a very early age. I’m from Fortazela, in the north-east of Brazil, and came to live in the UK at the age of 5. I remember in primary school that I used to love anything related to art and it was through Disney comics that I started to draw; I would copy as many characters as I could. Eventually I felt that just copying wouldn’t do and so begun to create my own illustrations with my own characters. I have never had any formal training, although once I started with a painting teacher but I gave this up after a few lessons. In my younger years I became really interested in music, studying classical piano and eventually studied this at university. This period flagged a 13 year hiatus for my art practice however this is now fully flowing again.
You are quite a mixed-media artist, is there a practice that you like to focus on most? Does the subject of an artwork influence which medium you depict it through? (Or vice-versa?)
There is no favourite practice, really. I understand these as artistic languages that give me the potential to express myself and so I kind-of work my way through it. Recently I started to study programming using a software called Processing; it’s from the guys from MIT. Basically, it was created for the in-between people, so visual artists can take advantage from programming and the programmer has an artistic vain. It’s a visual programme where you write codes and create tools to produce images, 3D and interactive art. The subject certainly influences the medium. It reminds me of the multiplicity of electronic music that was created entirely through drum machines with a range of pre-set beats; those presets gave birth to a variety of electronic genres known today.
Would you consider yourself a conceptual artist? Do you have reasons for this?
I don’t consider myself a conceptual artist however this doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t use conceptual aesthetics in my work . If it is appropriate for whatever I am creating I will utilise perceived symbolism with the understanding of it as just a tool that will serve my work. I don’t try to convey any social ideas per se; I am not against it however, I have no concern in convincing people of anything through my work.
How do you feel about art and artistic practices as a platform for addressing cultural concerns? Does this relate to your own work in any way?
Art in its many forms is a human activity that reflects and manifests the concern of a particular period in time as any other cultural product. Whatever is created by us can always say something about ourselves and the culture that we live in. I have cultural concerns but they don’t necessarily manifest in my artworks. I read Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception recently and at some point he observes that the paintings that most captures our sense of profundity are those where the characters portrayed are doing nothing in particular. They are not telling a story, nor they want to convey any particular message, but they have that deep look that seems to cut through everything. They are not addressing any concern about a particular culture, but seem to go beyond any of those particularities and therefore manifest a more direct contact with a deeper realm. There are a lot of nonsensical impulses in the creation of art and their impact comes from not having to make sense or address anything in particular. This is something that I do relate to when creating my work.
Your photography documents portrait and landscape and often beckons towards Neo-Surrealism; is there (a) particular subject/s you like to capture? Is there a particular artistic style you idolise and/or seek inspiration from?
I always believed that nature can teach us all and in arts, it has been teaching us for thousands of years. There is a lot of feedback that one can get by just observing and there is one particular aspect that I find fascinating and that is the relationship between simplicity and complexity, more precisely how simple rules can bring to live complex forms and how the sense of beauty emerges from those two aspects. It is so often that we assume many things in nature as normal and take things for granted, and yet things can extrapolate and be extravagant and weird. All that gradient seems to happen through the observer’s mind regarding the observed, therefore it is how one looks and observe, how one focus their attention. If the extra can be seen in the ordinary, nature will reveal itself to you in a new way. I love complexity but always when it starts from simplicity at its bases. I usually start from simple lines, dots and intersections, building up towards more complex patterns, whatever the subject of my work is. I have been lately drawing figures and “beings” where the form usually starts simple and end up in more complex patterns. I like surrealism because it seems to manifest the antipodes of what we understand as “normal”. Abnormality in my understanding is not other worldly, it is not a meta-world, a art. separate reality, but just an extension from what we call normality, a continuum and the intersection can be quite blurred. I think that many forms of art plays with that idea.
Are there any key ideas about ‘desire’ that you would seek inspiration from?
I understand that most of the problems that we have come from desire, to have or possess things or to crave towards certain feelings. In recent years I have come to realise that many of my goals and desires were set within a story that tells that you have to achieve, reach, go to the top and conquer. This is all wrapped on what most of us understand what life is all about. Control is a must to achieve anything, but with it, you create fear, and there is no control without fear.
For more of Berg’s work visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/bergmunroe/