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#28

Dom Theobald was born in Redhill, Surrey, 1963.
He studied at Norwich School of Art and Design and Slade School of Fine Art
He lives and works in Norfolk.



As you enter the gallery you are presented with a single painting - distinct motifs on a dark ground - on the central wall ; to the left hangs a row of much smaller canvases with clearly related imagery and high colour, on the remaining right hand wall there are a pair of the larger paintings, but in these the dark textured ground is dominante, significantly subduing the pallet of the other works.


A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Dom Theobald, Outpost 21st December 2006.

Kaavous Clayton: How do you select the objects you paint?

Dom Theobald: Some of the forms in the paintings arise from objects that already exist, either in a material state or in memory. Others arise from the processes of painting, and become named once I have identified them. This 'naming' could, I suppose, be seen as a crude version of the complex set of processes by which we navigate the world- the naming of objects rather than the spaces between. The 'objects' often have a strong personal link, for example a shoe or a bowl, which reminds me of a particular event or person. But these are just departure points- firstly because it would be tricky for a viewer to know what I was getting at, and secondly because I'm not sure that content is that dominant an issue when you are confronted with the tricky process of making a painting.

KC: Decisions about what to paint seem to be a crux for many painters, and one that once resolved allows them to indulge in the process. You seem to relish the challenge, and the fight with the resolution is apparent in your textures.

DT: I think that consciously or unconsciously, one way or another, we begin with our materials as much as our intentions. I know a lot of artists would disagree with that but I have always had what is probably a childish fascination with how to make something, how it feels to move paint around, and so on. But in responding to your comment there is a danger of falling in a 'form versus content' rut. Things are so much more intertwined. The nearest I could get to a handy phrase, should I need one, might be 'forms and contents'. Part of the problem with evolving intentions outside the making process, I think, is that at times the brain (or at least my brain) lacks good software to solve what are in the end quite complex problems (form, content, whatever) outside the arena of the actual painting. So its all got to happen in front of my eyes, not behind them.

KC: That's certainly evident in what goes on when we see the paintings as well. For me some of the paintings feel as if they hark back to another era: there's something in their style that seems to reference an older period of painting. Is this a problem for you?

DT: It's not a problem as such. What does become tricky is talking about specific influences, as we would tend to cleave to the first couple of names I rashly came up with. A decent conversation about painting and influences should ideally take place over several hours and a good supply of red wine, thus enabling us to get to the essence of the issues, but also forget the conversation. I am often very surprised by the links that many people make between my work and other artists. I think that when you work intensively on imagery and surfaces the roles played by other artist's work get obscured. But I don't mind if you are reminded of another era. Visual languages often echo each other. I am intrigued that they remind you of an era rather than an individual, I would hate them to reek of another artist. My approach to painting owes great debts, but my actual imagery, the actual look of the things, less so I would say.

KC: Let's open a bottle of wine and get to the essence then.

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