Reflection - Interview #5 - Louise Lahive

In the lead up to Reflection: Contemporary Portrait Exhibition at Surface Gallery, Nathan T. Dean has been interviewing the artists about their practice and the wider artistic environment today. All our artists have been asked the same questions on portraiture, selfie culture, art, and more, to get an insight into how an international array of artists - all coming together under one set form of portraiture - can explore, tackle, and discuss the form in such varied ways.

And we continue, with Louise Lahive.


For people who are just discovering your pieces, can you tell us a bit about yourself, your artistic
practice, and your work to date?

I’m an artist who lives and works in North Hertfordshire, I graduated from Kingston in 1999 with
a BA in fine art and my practise has been mainly painting ever since then. I consider myself a
painter, although I do work in other mediums and other materials, for example sculpture, digital
art or illustration, but most of these works I consider as secondary to my main large canvases
that I like to work towards over a long period of time.

Which artists inspire your work, and do you feel they too are portrait artists? Do you even regard
yourself as a portrait artist?

It’s hard to answer the question of who inspires me because it’s so many and varied; I am
inspired by my contemporaries that I meet. I think it’s an exciting time to be working as a painter.
The artists that I come back to time and again are people such as Rembrandt, Eva Hesse,
Camille Pissarro, Anselm Kiefer, Hilma af Klint.

No, I don’t consider myself as a portrait artist, however I use myself in my work as an authentic
starting point or because I can only communicate the experience of being human through
myself. I only know what it is to be me.

In our current turbulent world, how do you feel portraiture fits into the current artistic and cultural

Well, I think that it’s a good thing to be introspective and for us to really look at ourselves; there
is never a time when we do not need to look inwards to go forward. At the moment, we can see
and understand ourselves physically in ways that we have never been able to before, this really
interests me. We are evolution understanding itself better and better every day, but how do we
interpret this into our everyday reality? How do we interpret this into our spiritual and emotional
experience (if at all)?

As a follow up, Facebook, selfie culture, the public and the private? As an artist, what are your
views on these elements, and does this change your artistic practice?

It’s difficult to get people out and engaged with art on a local level, and public forums online do
help to promote work, however I look at it really as a way to try and get people to show up and
help to create an interest.

The fact that self-image, or one single image, can become so important now is something that I
am not comfortable with; I don’t think a cult of narcissism is the way forward. As for public and
private, I have always thought that it is important for me to be honest or ‘revealed', if you like,
as an artist in order for me to progress. I guess this makes me a portrait artist in a sense.

How does it feel being a part of an exhibition with such a range of international artists?


Hardest question, and one I've asked everyone I've interviewed. What do you think the future of
art is? What comes next? And if you had infinite resources and time, what would you add to that
future art?

I am worried about the future of the arts at the moment in regards to the up and coming
generations. It has never been easy to be an artist, but now it is becoming harder to study if you
are not rich; this is deeply disturbing and detrimental to the arts.

As far as the future of fine art goes, I think it’s becoming less centred in London because of the
property boom and most gallerists not able to operate with high rents.

If I had infinite resources my paintings would be larger and I would have a huge studio with a
rack and I would not need to worry about buying paint or finding part time jobs to support my
work. However I do try and let the work lead me and I don’t ever think I can’t make something
because of resources, I usually find a way eventually.

If I had infinite time I would not know what to do.