James Metsoja was born in Sailsbury
He studied at Norwich School of Art and Design
James currently lives and works in Norwich
A conversation between James Epps and James Metsoja
James Epps: Looking seems to be particularly central to your practice. How does painting affect how you look at the rest of the world?
James Metsoja: Looking is about learning and I feel like I am always learning to see, rather like a baby. I am learning to paint while looking at stuff, other paintings, a mug, anything really. The looking makes the painting and the painting makes the looking. After seeing any real good show of work I tend to spend the next few days seeing the world like the paintings. And sometimes when the work is real good the world makes more or less sense.
JE: In previous conversations you have often gone back to Van Gogh’s painting of shoes, what is it about the particular painting that is so important to you?
JM: Van Gogh has put boots somewhere special with that painting. It shows how big painting can be. They hit a hard nerve and I think he puts all of humanity and pathos in those boots. It is difficult to paint a pair of boots now because how amazing Van Gogh is.
JE: Working with line is something you have become more interested in, how has this informed or even changed the way that you paint?
JM: I find it difficult to know how or why something informs my painting. Most things that occur in my work are accidental or done non-intelligently. It takes me a long time sometimes to come to terms with a painting I have made. I have a lot of potential for paintings lying about in my studio. Bits of paper I have worked on, photos, postcards, old books etc. I sometimes see something I know will work and then doesn’t, it tricks me and lets me know I am not really in charge. Images have to wait and mature on my floor. The line is something I have begun to see around me a lot, it is something that has crept up on me and I can’t ignore it, even if I try.
JE: You have spoken about wanting to make a painting that would literally “blow someone’s socks off”, why is this the ultimate thing a painting could do for you? Is there any other effect that you would want your paintings to have upon someone?
JM: I don’t know what the ultimate thing a painting could do for me. There is no ultimate in painting, or anything. But for a painting to be so impossible it results in an unreal occurrence is a fantasy of mine. At the end of the film ‘Perfume’ the guy releases a scent and everyone starts fucking. I really like that. It feels fitting for something nuts to happen after so much work. I don’t know what painting is, it is so elusive and crazy. Perhaps to blow someone’s socks off is the ultimate, but probably not.
JE: Fantastic, we will keep an eye on what happens to the visitors. Thank you James.