Monday, 13 December 2010

Miles Ahead - the art of Robert Miles-Kingston

Bob Miles-Kingston describes himself thus:
Deliver me from composition

Robert Miles-Kingston has no money, no time, lives and works in London.

Much of his work is produced with materials that are immediately available to him - such is the wealth available to people who are skint in London- reflecting elements or aspects of his confused, conflicted and inverted urban psyche that wants to destroy as much as create. As much immersed sponge-like as defying it's influence the city psychology, mentality and it's cultured apathy and foolishly facile mastery over convenience as an objective simply appalls and amuses him. His love of London and it's inconsistencies inevitably promotes cynicism and self deprecation, a quality that he looks for in most of his allusions. 

His latest creations therefore are impossible to behold, either merging with their surroundings, unseen, to be neglected or ignored in the city's necessary myopia, or sinking into the folklore that makes London's future trajectory so intensely fascinating and confounding. He likes confounding and doesn't care if you miss it. It's natural after all.

His paintings are anti compositional, have no apparent design or content, take months to create and are, he says, better appreciated through a magnifying glass.

They emulate the random patterns of nature's gradual and inevitable re-encroachment into man-made, intellectually contrived constructs and environments.

He enjoys the process of reclamation of millennia over the immediate and finite.

He aims to move this further into London's civic environment by reproducing it on much of the blank concrete that London threw up in the 1970s and 80s , He is interested to see if a more colorful decay of damp and crumbling material could involve the human sense without the need to stamp authority or identity on it.


If my work is personal and immersive, it's probably because I allow external or incoming information to reveal aspects of myself  to myself. I think that there is enough theory of thought around positing that we comprehend through our reactions and readings and not directly to what information may or may not be 'out there'. and I enjoy working with the sub or unconscious aspects of this. - both of which I understand very little about- but which kind of enable me to surprise myself sometimes.
I wouldn't take too much stock on the anti or uncommercial- I'm sure there's plenty of important  thought around that will never be 'commercial. saleable, liked or recognised by distributors- however I do like the conflict involved in the making of a product (the term 'product' in a very contemporary essence may be described as a commercial concept now) which will never sell. 

But the Anti-Commercial work really came about with the Embryomix-Left Field Glastonbury films project which was made with a specific purpose in mind- and that's another story which has kind of been disposed of or is at least in the recycle bin.

I'm not sure about this term 'inspire'. Maybe 'drive' or 'urge' would be more apt. Either that or I am constantly 'inspired', which either makes me almost divine or very tired. 

'Creation' gives me the shivers ( unless firmly sistered with  'destruction' ) -for me it's maybe unfolding or uncovering. 'Creation' has a lot of baggage I don't have a lot of time for right now unless I happen upon it, or it surprises me en route somewhere.
Art without boundaries? Really? I'm not sure that's possible. It's an attractive phrase, but I imagine a kind of genetic level of communication that has both it's success and it's failure already programmed in. If I transcend any boundaries it's probably only because I'm not good at holding or tapping information intellectually. 

How did you start making art? Who inspired you? Who inspires you now?

I started conciously age 5 when the school called my parents in to show them a painting I made- Then I just drew and painted and wrote, ignoring everything else unless it related to my own view. l I studied life drawing with a brilliant man called Arthur Ruff ( Rough ) at East Ham Technical College probably age 12-13. I saw my elder sister June's work on her foundation course there and knew where I wanted to go from that point. Events conspired against me when I was 15 and we left London for two years but by 18 I was running around the world in a Punk band, not giving a fuck and spouting anti-art rhetoric- artists and dealers were pompous, ineffectual, self indulgent, pretentious and up their own arses- a view I refuse to shake off completely even though I have prophetically become the object of my derision- a common fate for most rebels I think.

Influences past and present? It's difficult to narrow down influences when you enjoy maintaining an ontological outlook. I believe that I am influenced by the conflict between ancient and contemporary. I love and hate the wealth of information available (if you are looking) and accept the trade off. I suspect you can be focused or balanced but not both. 

A lot of your work is very isolated, made on your own, in the streets of London, using iconic images and the naturally layered old/ modern faces of the city, how did you start that process?

I don't have a lot of time currently to dedicate to collaborating with anybody. I tried to work with my sister but  it hasn't worked out yet, even though we have very consistent outlooks on alot of things - so I work alone right now.  I haven't thought about it as isolated. I suppose too that if I lived in Glasgow that would be where the main body of work would be situated too- so it's where I am. But London for me is unique. It;s a magnet and a repellent. It has every kind of complementarity and conflict. The further I look into it or myself the more I see an inseparability. So really,  the process started before I was born. It pushes forward, dragging antiquity with it. It's links are so ancient that the uncertainty of past and future occupy the same space in some unmapped potential. I think that history is as unreliable as prediction.

Your work has been described as "outsider", what do you make of the art world's desire to label everything?

Labeling is for convenience and will always (foreseeably) be a search tool. The hardest thing is to label accurately. I forgive anyone who doesn't quite succeed. I'd be flattered if anyone wanted to categorise me. although I'd probably fail to agree with them. I don't worry too much about what the 'Art world' does or thinks. I know plenty of people that work in the Art industry and it is very much like other industries once it comes down to shifting units. If you place me inside this sphere I probably seem an outsider, mainly because it seems to be filled with post graduates ( or aspirants )- which I am not- and commercially successful (to whatever level ) individuals or companies- which I am not. And since I work cheap and currently finance myself I am in the enviable position of being uncompromised and broke.

How does the east influence your creative process? There's a zen-like simplicity, something Japanese in the aesthetic. Did you spend time in Japan?
I could probably go on forever about the influence of the east. It's influence is underestimated, but so is the influence flowing the other way.

How do you view the contemporary art scene and the massive hype bubble that surrounds a few superstar artists and their dealers?
I shit it.

Do you think an artist has to stay poor to stay pure?
It's not possible to stay pure. the dirtier the better anyway.

What do you mean by your paintings are "anti-compositional?"

This came about when I came across a whole batch of prints on vinyl 'canvas'' in a London Ad agency. There were about 35 in all in various sizes. They were printed with designs and photographs which  were evidently used for displays in corporate events and conventions and were related to a client's product. They were specifically designed and geared toward commercial aim.It's no secret that regardless of your political views, commerciality relies on some form of 'exploitation' . Advertising has enough documentation that enables me to not bore you with particulars about fear and desire and insecurity. I do believe, though, that basically and intrinsically, it belongs to business and not the other way round. I got these items and set out to destroy and disfigure them. but not actively or by design. You can read about the process in my file EleMental. 

 He is currently planning and developing work for an independent solo exhibition at Albert Embankment opposite Tate Britain.   What is that?
I'll tell you about it in the new year.

What's your advice to aspiring art students?

Don't stray from the path- Run as fast as you can from it deep into the woods.

For more photos and art work click here

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