Introducing Allan Solomon January 23 2016, 0 Comments
Allan Solomon is a London-based artist working in both ink and oils. Originally from South Africa Allan stems from a long line of artists, close relative William Ewart Gladstone Solomon was an internationally renowned painter in his time.
In the last few years Allan has resurrected his love of art and is now becoming more prolific producing both highly detailed large-scale ink drawings and freer, more flowing oil paintings. When drawing Allan works on large scale iconic objects that involve hundreds of hours and millions of minute pen strokes resulting in photo-realistic black-and-white stand-out pieces.
H: Allan before we talk about your art….your close relative was an internationally renowned painter, what can you tell us about him?
A: Yes, William Ewart Gladstone Solomon. He died before I was born but I did grow up with his works on the walls of my grandparents and parents homes. I have studied his work and still spend long periods admiring the incredible detail of his portraits whenever I visit my parents house. Growing up I think I took it for granted what an accomplished artist he was but now that I’m a bit older and a bit more appreciative of what it takes to be a top artist I’m using the fact that his works were hung in places like the Royal Academy and the Paris Salon as inspiration to drive me. Incidentally my wife and I have just had a second child and we wanted to call him Gladstone but eventually chickened out and went with William instead.
H: Where does your interest in art come from?
A: I come from a family of artists, though not necessarily always professionals, and grew up in a house full of art. My father is an excellent artist and it is very much his love of art that got me interested firstly as a child and again after a long period in my 20s of focusing on other things. He spends his weekends consumed with family, sport and art – the three best things in the world – and I love doing the same. I spend hours and hours when visiting my parents getting inspired by all the art in the house. Dad's a very accomplished collector of art so between his work and that of other well-known artists there’s lots to be inspired by.
H: Your first ever experience of ‘art’..
A: Thinking back it was probably posing for one of my Dad’s sculptures. I don’t remember the day but I do remember the sculpture.
H: What inspires you?
A: I appreciate art where the artist has demonstrated real technical skill or style that has come from thousands of hours of craft; so I get inspired by people who have perfected their craft through sheer bloody determination and lots and lots of hard work. I go to a lot of galleries and exhibitions to see different artists styles and techniques but I get my main inspiration from reading – I like to learn about people who are top of their fields and from fields like watch-making where there is incredible skill and creativity combined.
H: What's your drawing process like?
A: Time consuming. I love the detail that needs to go into my drawing works and I get a little obsessive over it so I spend hundreds of hours on each piece. Over the years I have experimented with different techniques and have now finally settled on one that I like and feel comfortable with; the upside is that I find it almost cathartic sitting there for long periods of time just covering a small area of the work, the downside is that it takes a very long time to complete every piece. I use pen instead of pencil; pencil would be a lot quicker but I like the permanent nature of pen and the challenge that comes with not being allowed any scope to make mistakes. I fear to think how many small individual pen marks each work has, many millions I would guess.
H: What would be your dream commission?
A: There’s a museum in Stellenbosch, owned by Johann Rupert. I visit it every time I am in South Africa. That would be my dream place for my work to be displayed.
H: How do you deal with creative block?
A: I don’t really get it to be honest (though now I’ve gone and cursed myself). If there’s any problem I have it’s finding enough time to dedicate to art, so when I do get time to sit down and work I am usually full of ideas and rearing to go.
H: If you could make a list of your favourite contemporary artists, who would you pick?
A: CJ Hendry, Zaria Forman, Dylan Lewis and Hennie Niemann Jnr – all very different artists but all of them have incredible technical ability and great patience.
H: Banksy…..any thoughts?
A: He’s a marketing genius. Which is really what art is about these days.
H: What are you working on next?
A: I’m finishing one more pen work and then focusing on a series of oil paintings. My painting technique tends to be a lot freer and quicker than my drawing work so I am hoping to be more prolific.
H: Outside of art what makes you the happiest?
A: Walking (preferably long distances with a golf club in my hands) and debates over dinner with family.
H: Do you have a creative hero?
A: I don’t know if ‘hero' is the right word but I marvel at how people like Jerry Seinfeld (and Larry David) and George RR Martin managed to conceive of their creative worlds.
H: How would your friends describe you?
A: My friends and I subscribe to the notion that the more we make fun of each other the better friends we are, so I certainly wouldn’t want them describing me on here. Though I know they’d all call me ‘serious’, which is their simplistic way of saying I'm ‘introverted’.
A: I won’t dwell on things like religion and politics but I would certainly make the world a little safer if I could, particularly in my home country of South Africa. Otherwise a lot more sunshine in the UK would certainly make for better news.
Allan's first work on Hatch 'The Jack' is now available exclusively to Hatch. Here's the link