We caught up with exhibiting artist, Tahmina Negmat, to talk about her unconventional practise and winning The Ingram Collection’s Purchase Prize for Young Contemporary Talent in 2016. See her work in Young Contemporary Talent from The Ingram Collection in our Main Gallery, until 16 September.
Tahmina Negmat, Cuntus Firmus detail, 195cm diameter oil and terracotta on board © The Artist
How has being included in The Ingram Collection opened doors for you in the art world?
I won the Purchase Prize back in 2016. This was a time when I had just started my MA at the Royal College of Art. I didn’t feel the immediate impact of it because I had my head down painting all the time and didn’t exhibit a great deal. But I am now extremely grateful for this opportunity, as I was granted an Exceptional Talent Visa by the Arts Council that has enabled me to work and reside as an artist in the UK. The Ingram Collection was one of the most important achievements on my application that advocated I qualify to be endorsed, so it hasn’t only opened doors for me in the art world, but has had a huge impact on my life too.
Your artworks have very distinctive titles. How do you decide what you’re going to name your art?
I'm fixated on the idea that art should encourage the viewer to simply look at it before trying to read into it and make judgements. So I purposely use very obvious titles that operate as a "shortcut" to figuring the work out straight away. Sometimes they are quite provocative, like ‘Interrupted Ejaculation’. The hope is that once the determination to label an artwork into a fixed category has been settled through the title, the viewer will look past their judgements and start seeing the painting itself.
Tahmina Negmat, Cyclops for Redon, oil and terracotta on board, RCA Degree Show 2018 © The Artist
You work with “unconventional materials”. How do you define these?
I work primarily with found materials – like the sediments of boat varnish or paintings and installation props made by my friends and fellow artists that were either too big or too frustrating for them to keep. Instead of picking up brushes, I pick up a broom and go on a kind of “pathetically heroic Don Quixote” journey with my hoover where I find cut-outs or blobs of paint sitting on my desk or on the floor. Some of it eventually ends up on a painting.
I love terracotta. I’m currently working on a series of paintings on terracotta that have an almost furiously uncompromising tone in their appearance, smell and heaviness. It’s a wonderful red, rich, open clay, and the texture has a robustness to it and an immediacy you don’t find in much else. I’m obsessed with it.
In ‘Interrupted Ejaculation’, I used found carpet bits resined and glued on board that had inhaled too much sawdust, so overall, it has a very crusty finish.
Tahmina Negmat, Cuntus Firmus, RCA Degree Show 2018 © The Artist
Who inspires you? Who are your favourite artists?
I can’t wait to get back to my studio and try out some ‘impersonations’ of Chaim Soutine’s, “The Rayfish” (ca. 1725-26). I love Philip Guston, the painter and printmaker, too. But then...everyone does.
What is your favourite artwork in the Young Contemporary Talent exhibition at The Lightbox?
I love ‘Parable (Triptych)’ by Douglas Cantor because it has elements of preciseness but at the same time ambiguity. His work carries a lot of character and authenticity to who he is. It steps away from stereotypes and "safeness" which I really like, and try to convey in my own work too.
Tahmina Negmat, Interrupted Ejaculation (2016) mixed media on the rug © The Artist
Tahmina’s mixed media painting, ‘Interrupted Ejaculation’, is not one to be missed. See for yourself in Young Contemporary Talent from The Ingram Collection in the Main Gallery until 16 September 2018.
Banner image: Tahmina Negmat, 41x31cm, My Back Pages, oil on board © The Artist