Recently Saxon and I sat down in his creative space in northern NSW to have a chat about his incredible work & a few of his artistic inspirations:
Can you tell us a little about your background, how you came to be an artist and where you work from?
My name is Saxon (Sax) and I'm a 36 year old self-taught artist with a background in Visual Design.
I grew up in country Victoria, Australia in a town called Allendale with a population of around 300 people (back then). I was surrounded by art and creativity since the day I was born. My mother - Dianne Coulter, also an artist, has had a large studio and gallery on the family property since he was born. My late father was a graphic designer and part-time artist.
I began to paint in 2017, after my return from living in NYC. My first few series of works were cement based paintings - taking a cue from the asphalt sprawl streetscapes of NYC and cities around the world. I love the way cement decays on walls, pavements and roads over time and wanted to harvest this rawness in my works.
Since then I have moved on to use heavy raw canvas for my works, whilst still destressing and scuffing the pieces to keep that true rawness. Currently my works reference my childhood, friends, family, influences and how materialistic objects can hold value when young and trying to fit in. Other than the face-value meaning of my marks and works, from the very beginning each and every piece has acted as a healing method (I know this has been said a million times) but for me I really do feel at peace when I paint, painting is my time to escape…In my otherwise cluttered and pinball-like mind, painting gives me the opportunity to stop, focus, relax and enjoy the process of creating. The more I paint, the more I feel that my works represent that balance. Amongst the rough and sporadic, there's a sense of calm and balance. I want to continue to harvest this and express it.
What’s a typical day in the studio for you?
For the most part I'll only begin a new piece or paint if I have a clean slate - no other obligations, or distractions.. I gotta also be in the right state of mind (happy haha). I won't paint if I'm feeling a little out of it, distracted, or in a shitty mood (this may change over time but for now I love painting when I'm feeling good).
If I'm starting a new body of work, I will generally repaint the studio and floor, I'll also intentionally wreck a couple of pieces to begin the process - a bit of a ritual for re-setting and blasting away any pent-up exploration that isn't indicative of what I am striving for.
In your paintings we see the repetition of motifs. Often the motifs are pop culture references such as trademarked logos, but we also see recurring motifs that seem more personal. Can you describe a little about where the symbolic imagery comes from and what interests you about it?
The motifs in my works generally have a couple of meanings to them (past the obvious brand mark that is seen) the marks may represent; friendship, finding a pack, how we perceive wealth, popularity when we're young and how that changes as we get older. Some motifs reference insecurities, family loss/gain, influences growing up and more. I also incorporate markings and characters from early sketch pads I still have from when I was a young child, I love the freedom in these drawings and what they represent to me. Studying the sketches I find it interesting to see how we can slowly pigeonhole ourselves with our creativity. What was once a free uninterrupted idea/drawing slowly gets molded into how things should look/be drawn. For me personally, its important to remember to create carefree.
There’s also a sense of rawness in your work. An exposure of some sorts, where materials like the raw canvas, the graphite - essentially the utility of your various tools is always exposed. Can you talk to us a little about that?
For as long as I can remember I've always steered in this direction, whether it be; branding, publication, comm design or garment and print design - theres generally been an element of decay.
I've always loved the patina in buildings, and how concrete specifically ages and gets grit overtime. Living in NYC certainly inspired me to add this process to painting.