Tuesday, February 12

Profile: Ewan Gibbs

London’, 2005. Pencil on paper

New York’, 2006. Pen and pencil on graph paper

I am fascinated with the work of British artist Ewan Gibbs. His ink on graph paper and linocuts are exactly executed, yet quietly stunning. Perhaps it is the love and appreciation I have for the linocuts in our home, imaginatively crafted by my husband’s grandmother that draws me to Ewan’s work.

Circular and linear marks on grid paper create fascinating pixel-like images. Hundreds of tiny marks are hand drawn into each grid in varying shades of black and grey. Up close, they appear vague, yet at a distance, they are transformed into meticulous, detailed drawings of cities, landmarks and interiors.

Ewan graduated from Goldsmiths College, London in 1996. Other famous Goldsmiths alumni include Lucian Freud, Mary Quant and Damien Hirst. Ewan has exhibited in both the UK and the US. Recent solo exhibitions have included Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin, Texas and Paul Morris Gallery, New York. In London the prestigious Timothy Taylor Gallery represents his work. You can view more of Ewan’s work on the Timothy Taylor Gallery website. The computer of course is an invaluable tool, but it is not a perfect substitute for viewing the actual artwork.

If you are stateside you can view Ewan’s upcoming exhibit ‘Pictures of Pitchers’ at the Lora Reynolds Gallery in Austin from 8 March – 19 April.

'Ewan' 2001. Portrait of Ewan Gibbs painted by artist and friend Alessandro Raho.

What artists, historical or contemporary, do you most admire?
Historically I would say, Bonnard, Mattise , Van Gogh, Atget, Brassai, Seurat. Also Patrick Caulfield and Roy Lichtenstein. In terms of people working today, Vija Celmins, Richard Artschwager, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Chuck Close, Bernd and Hiller Becher and On Kawara.

What inspires your art and ideas
In terms of developing a technique, the major inspiration was a book of knitting and crochet patterns that I came across on a market stall in Brick Lane in 1993. I was excited by the patterns use of a grid as a structure or scaffold to hang a picture on. The patterns were also made up of a variety of symbols such as circles, crosses, diagonal lines etc. These marks differentiated between the different colours to be used when knitting or crocheting the pictures, a similar logic to painting by numbers.

I adopted this language to initially translate images of hotel interiors from holiday brochures and have gradually reduced the marks down to either circles or diagonal lines over the last fifteen years. I now work from both found images and my own photographs.

‘San Francisco’, 2006. Lino cut on 225g Zerkall 902 paper

‘New York’, 2006. Pencil on graph paper

What is your most prized possession?
I do not really have many prized possessions but if the house was on fire I would try and save our family photographs and my photographic record of the 200 plus drawings I have made so far.

What is the one thing in life you can’t live without
Enough sleep.

What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
I once shot a hole in one on a short par 3 but that was more luck than judgment. Apart from that, on the work front I am proud of a 46ft x 7ft mural I was commissioned to paint when I was 18. It took me about nine months and I was paid £2000 which at the time made me feel rich. I suppose it also made me a professional artist of sorts.

On the domestic front, I looked after our seven month old daughter Lillian for four days a week for the two years before our son Arthur was born. Going from the solitary, self absorbed life of an artist to entertaining a child for eleven hours a day was quite a challenge and a major culture shock.

What is your idea of earthly happiness
I’m sure it is much the same as everyone else’s.

Who are your favourite heroes of fiction?

I don’t tend to make time to read fiction or watch movies. I have however watched Mary Poppins with Lillian about fifty times over the last few months. So I would have to say that Mary Poppins is a hero as she keeps the kids entertained and is practically perfect in every way. Bert has also become a firm favourite. He never seeks to press his advantage with Mary and as a pavement artist he draws what he likes and he likes what he drew.

What books are on your bedside table
I am currently re reading ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ by Mitch Albom. The last fiction I read was a book called ‘The Manny’ by Holly Peterson. I heard her interviewed on the radio and although aimed at female readers the book intrigued me as I had done a bit of childcare and I was about to go to New York and stay with a friend who lived on Park Avenue.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love sitting down on a Monday morning with five days of drawing stretched out in front of me. Putting on my headphones and listening to an album that I have fallen in love with but not yet played to death. (Current flavours of the month are Kate Nash’s ‘Made of bricks’ and Neil Young’s ‘Chrome dreams 11’) If I am in the middle of a drawing that is going well then that’s all the better.

Art/Photos: Copyright, Ewan Gibbs; Courtesy, Timothy Taylor Gallery, London
Profile by Ronda Carman


Anonymous said...

FANTASTIC interview! What a guy!!

Anonymous said...

Just found your blog and this profile is awesome. Love what you are doing.

Anonymous said...

Wow! The details are amazing. Great blog.

Mary-Laure said...

Thank you Ronda, I wasn't familiar with this artist's work and it just looks so fabulous!So textured...

I just love the questions you asked; one learns so much about someone when they talk about the books and music they like! It's always an inspiration.

katiedid said...

I am having an art crush. Very nice!

Suzy said...

Love his work Rhonda, thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

These are amazing! Really amazing!! I am not too far from Austin, I must try and make it to the gallery.

Thanks Ronda!

annechovie said...

Very interesting interview, Ronda. Ewan really has talent and I could also relate a bit to his background, having been a nanny in the past and also painting murals.

Anonymous said...

Ronda, I am going to be in Austin visiting my cousin. I've got to take this in! Thanks for the heads up! His art is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this rich interview! Ewan is The Armory Show 2009's Commissioned Artist, providing the identity for the show, and The Armory Show has in turn made available a new series of Ewan's prints, the proceeds of which will go to The Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Cancer Foundation and the Pat Hearn and Colin de Land Acquisition Fund at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

You can find out more about purchasing the prints at:

or about the foundation at: www.phcdl.org