Continuing our series of interviews with artists exhibiting at the forthcoming Talented Art Fair, 55Pages caught up with British figurative artist Vincent Kamp who is bringing his stunningly evocative portraits of barbers to the Old Truman Brewery in March.
In just a few words, who are you and what do you do?
I'm Vincent Kamp. I'm an artist. At the moment I'm painting the guys and girls who cut hair in barbershops.
What is your background?
I worked for the family business for damn near on 20 years, teaching myself how to draw and paint by means of blood sweat and tears.
How would you describe your work?
I am a figurative realist painter...pretty traditional, meaning I paint in the style made popular by the likes of Caravaggio and Rembrandt.
Who and what are your biggest influences?
I am heavily influenced by the art of Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Sargent and Zorn but also by people like Josh Waitzkin - a legendary chess master who turned his knowledge of chess to Tai Chi and became world champion. He then wrote this great book, “The Art of Learning”. How mad is that? Incredible!
I am fascinated by learning. I study voraciously to improve my art. Right from anatomy to painting restoration through to colour grading in cinematography. If it's visual, I want to know about it.
What are your favourite contemporary artists and why?
Artists like Sean Cheetham, who taught me more than he will probably ever appreciate and Hollis Dunlap, both American contemporary realist painters. Look them up, they are amazing.
What makes you get up and paint?
I get an absolute thrill in stepping up to a blank panel or canvas not knowing how it will turn out. In my head I see it clearly but damn there's such a fricken roller coaster of “shit”, “not shit”, “not bad I guess”, “hell yeah”, “oh dammit shit again” to the final “yeah, I guess that works”. I even get a buzz just walking towards my studio. It's that uncertainty that I love. Creating something, anything feels like such a privilege.
Where did the idea of doing a "barbershop series" come from?
I was at a motorbike show in London, looking for some gritty gnarly people to paint for a series when I saw Pauly Harmer from Thy Barber cutting hair at a popup barbershop. He had this awesome look and I thought, damn, this would be a great challenge: hands, scissors, tattoos, facial hair. Technically quite tough but I thought it would look pretty cool. I just went up and asked him if he minded me taking pictures and using them for a painting. I then went into their shop and the rest is history…
Talented Art Fair – 17-19 March 2017
The Old Truman Brewery, London E1