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Making a Splash: The Art of Dean Rossiter

SEEN has long been an admirer of Dean Rossiter’s work through Focus LDN. His slick, amorphous paintings draw the viewer in, somehow; hinting at the mystery of artistic practice and deeper concepts perhaps – cell division, or the chaotic nature of the Universe… Rossiter is already represented by galleries in Shanghai and Madrid, and is frequently sought out for corporate commissions. He kindly agreed to talk to us about his process recently. Enjoy.

Dean, SEEN is a huge fan of your paintings. They draw the eye with their lush colours and startling composition. Do you begin a painting with an idea already in mind, or do they arise from your process?

I start each painting with a mixture of knowing and not knowing what the outcome’s going to be. I’ve always felt the most interesting works are the ones that let go of complete control just before the point of complete contingency. In this middle ground experimentation merges with the deliberate act of making and I’m always surprised by the quasi-contingent results. I’m also interested how this approach to production relates to our cultural attitude, where a sense of control is felt as being necessary. Letting go of this control is both liberating and terrifying but the paradox that comes out of this process interests me. The fact that an object with a seemingly structured, aesthetic sensibility can be created from an objective and contingent process throws up a contradiction I’m continuing to explore.

Tell us about the materials you use. Is there a degree of experimentation in what you do?

Experimentation and the exploration of alchemic processes is very much at the centre of my practice. I’ve always had a love for science and I’ve always been interested in combining this to explore material processes. This habit of breaking down materials to understand how they work and altering them to achieve a language they were never intended to produce enables me to push the langue of painting and contemporary art further, or at least I hope it does.

SEEN is particularly drawn by the mutability of your paintings. Are you surprised by viewers’ reactions to, and interpretations of, the meaning of your work?

I don’t know if surprised is the word but I’m certainly interested in the way individuals interact and engage with my work. I’ve become interested in the role art has to play in the digital age, particularly the role painting can have in providing an organic experience in a world where experience is becoming increasingly synthetic and digitalised. For me, art’s all about exchange and I hope my paintings have the strength to construct an environment where they can engage an audience and provide a mixture of questions and unresolved answers.

You’ve exhibited in Shanghai, Madrid and, of course, in London. Is there something very particular to London that sustains you artistically?

London’s my stamping ground. This current series of work now has a language that’s been developed through this continual exposure to different cultures throughout Europe and Asia. I’m hoping this translates into new work, which has developed an almost universal language and can engage with the multicultural society of London in an increasingly individual manner. I can’t rest on my laurels or enjoy this moment for too long though, I have my American debut with an exhibition in Miami and a further two solo shows in Marbella and Grenada this autumn.

When you are in need of inspiration, do you find yourself at a gallery or museum? Or do other disciplines give you ideas?

It’s a funny thing finding inspiration; I’ve always believed that it’s something that can’t be found if you’re actively looking. I find that if you search for inspiration in this way, it becomes forced and that’s never a good thing. I’m usually struck by ideas when I’m relaxing and I’m not actively thinking, it’s far more subconscious than conscious. Although I am fortunate enough to live in a world where culture has the ability to permeate art and I often draw inspiration from everything around me. I’ve also fallen into the habit of carrying a journal where ever I go, it’s important to record these fleeting moments as they can vanish just as fast as they appear.

Where’s your favourite place to view art in London?

It’s a difficult question as London’s become this art centre of Europe where there’s so much art by so many different institutions and galleries. It almost becomes impossible to whittle it down to one. I have to say though, the Colour Is exhibition at Waddington Custot and Matt Collishaw’s Centrifugal Force exhibition at Blain Southern earlier this year have both had a lasting impression on me and have both shaped the direction my work is going to take next.