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01:03  Andras Nagy-Sandor : Tease

Last November, we spoke with painter Andras Nagy-Sandor about his solo show, titled ‘Tease’, with The Room London. Since then, Andras has shown with Artistellar gallery at the London Art Fair and is a prize winner in Studio West gallery’s open call 2022, alongside continuing to show works in multiple group shows. Since graduating from his MFA at the Slade in 2022, his work has continually amazed with a heightened interest in paint and visual language all of his own. ‘Tease’ was no exception to this trend; with a bright balance of figuration and abstraction.

OH: Okay. So I'm here with Andras. If you'd like, do you wanna just tell us a little bit about this piece?

ANS: Sure. So this piece is titled ‘Not Yet’.
I made it sometime in August 2022. It is a large scale painting, mainly with oil paint, but there's quite a bit of oil bar on it.

OH: Is the use of the material that you've got within this painting typical of your recent paintings?

ANS : Yes, very much so. I've just finished at the Slade and I was experimenting quite a lot with which materials I want to use in the future. The two things that really stood out were oil bars and oil paints. In works on paper I use a lot of inks and a lot of pastels and other such things, but on canvas I prefer oil and oil bar.

OH: Do you use the oil bar, almost as though it is a drawing medium?

ANS: Yes, yeah, that was kind of the deal.  That was kind of why I chose it; because I love painting, but I also love drawing. And I was looking for ways to combine them. I think during the pandemic I realised the importance of the line because it not just describes and delineates something but it can push the painting into a new dimension.

OH: That's interesting. With regards to this piece, do you feel like you started with drawings prior and then collaged them together? Or was it a very intuitive process, allowing that line to delineate and then almost form the composition?

ANS: It was intuitive. But I had a drawing beforehand. I tend to have a sketch pad at the studio which I draw on, and then immediately rip the paper out. If I like it, I put it on the wall. And I had like 4 or 5 drawings that I put on the wall, that were kind of all in a similar vein.

I mean this painting has a sword in the middle going kind of upwards, almost poking someone’s face in the eye. I had like 5 different variations of that drawing. But then, when I came to the painting -  it started with the line, and then it changed - but it started with the sword really. Drawing the outline of the sword defined the rest of the painting.

OH: Yeah. This sword really feels like it's resting on everything else that’s in the painting. It feels sort of dominant.

ANS: kind of heavy, No?

OH : Yeah, really heavy.

It feels like everything is being squished underneath it as it sort of sits in the middle of the painting. And this bright, beautiful use of yellow in the middle really makes it stand out and cohesively pulls everything together. I really like it.  I feel like your use of these different materials, it feels like it almost adds an extra layer to the colour with the texture. It feels like you can describe yellows and can have a different yellow dependent upon the actual texture. Like, especially in the sword. The hilt has flatter areas, but then, as you go through the sword, it has this difference of delineations of textures, that although it may be the same yellow feel as though they have their own different life.

ANS: Yeah, yeah, that's very true. That's something you can get with oil bars quite well. I think one of the other reasons I chose oil bar, and use it quite extensively, is because all my paintings start out with the idea of some kind of armour. Sometimes that's quite explicit in the work but sometimes it's just part of my process and it’s not really explicitly on the canvas.

But what ends up happening is that with the oil bar, you get this texture that you're describing, which feels like it sits on top of the oil. The oil paint is kind of soft and you can get soft transitions from one colour into the other colour. And once you go over that with the oil bar, it has a very rough texture, like it feels more exterior somehow. And I think that's part of the reason why I chose it. You can kind of describe something else in a similar but different enough way to feel like it's attached or it's not necessarily organically a part of the painting below.

OH: Can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind this piece?

ANS: Yeah, as I said, for most of my works, I started out with the idea of armour and body armour. So, I extensively look at medieval armours, but not just European armours, but armours from Asia. Also, I'm a big fan of animes, mangas and comic books, both Western and Eastern. There are so many different variations of the armour in them, as well as tools, such as the sword. These all get fetishises in certain ways, and that is kind of the beginning for me. That's how my paintings begin, and that's how my sketches begin. By having an armour that already has a narrative within it.

OH: Do you tend to imagine these armours, or do you go and source them? Like on the Internet, or go to different collections.

ANS : I imagine. I mean, I look at them, but never in the studio. When I’m in the studio, it's all from my imagination, because that's where it all becomes jumbled in with my own memories, with my whole feelings, with references that I bring from my childhood. For example, there's a Hungarian animation artist, who passed away recently called Marcell Jankovics, whose works I grew up on. He was the animator for the Hungarian folk tales TV Series that I watched extensively, as my mother was an ethnographer, so that was a big part of my childhood. And his style does feed into what I'm doing as well, but that can only happen if I'm not looking at anything in the studio.

OH: Yes. So the actual composition, and the way in which you form images, going back to the intuitiveness, sort of happens through an intuitive process it sounds like. Because you said you make drawings of these armours. You then put them on the studio wall, and then, almost without a plan, you have an anchor point. Within this piece, it was the sword you said, and then you form the rest around it. Do you still pull from different things?

ANS: Basically it has the core, the drawing will have the core. The core of this piece, ‘Not Yet’, was the eye and this sword that's kind of phallic. And yeah, from that moment on it becomes very intuitive. Then I start having a dialogue with the material itself. It kind of, you know accidents happen, and I realise that the work is actually about something else than the drawing was about. So, through the process, I'm also doing this self-analysis. Constantly realising why I chose this subject matter, and why this was important to me and as I go along I start to build on this realisation and that becomes more conscious by the end of the process.

OH: So you kind of start off almost swimming in the unknown, and then slowly but surely, you get closer and closer to land, and eventually it becomes… you don’t know exactly where you're ending up but you start off with an intention and end up somewhere else.

ANS: Yeah. Basically, I have a lot of trust in my subject matter and in my sketches. I feel like I've been experimenting with them for about 2 years now. Everything around masculinity, my own autobiographical moments and armours, I've been researching these extensively for the past 2 years. Both in some ways academic but more so in a kind of intuitive matter.

OH: I was going to say, do you see these drawings as a form of research into that masculinity and sort of the armours and everything? It sounds very much like you go out, you observe, and then you come back, and you intuitively research just through yourself, using yourself as a vessel.

ANS: Yeah. Completely. I find most things I do as research. Some of the biggest research I do is cycling through London. That's where the whole armour idea came from, from having to wear a helmet and protecting myself against my own environment and that's where it all started. And when I'm cycling, I see so many different fashion choices for motorcyclists, and the cars are so important as well. The headlights and all of that feeds into what I'm doing, so I feel like that's why I trust it so much. I cycle everywhere, so that means I'm constantly researching. I'm constantly thinking. And then of course, I tied that into kind of reading a book or taking that further and thinking about… like looking at comic books, for example, does kind of expand on that for me at least.

OH: I'm guessing as well… people usually see walking as a form of thinking. It's been linked quite heavily with the idea of being able to collect your thoughts. You know, if you struggle with something, take a break, go for walk. I wonder whether the actual act of cycling itself is a thought-provoking process.

ANS: It is, and also it's kind of something that I looked into for my MA Thesis, which was embodied sense-making.

OH: Oh ok. What’s that exactly?

ANS: It's kind of a way of making sense of your environment, but not just by visually making sense of it. But making sense of it through bodily reactions and that's basically how we go through life. You know, when you sit in a car, you're embodied sense-making kind of becomes wider, and you kind of expand it up to the body of the car a little. This is something that I’m super excited by and that's why cycling is so important to me as well. Suddenly I'm on the bike and my body gets extended, and the way I'm making sense of the world changes.

OH: Yeah. I guess the armour becomes an extension of the body as well as that sort of… yeah, I understand that now.

ANS: Yeah.

OH: Yeah. Very interesting.
Recording Ends