“It’s really nice and inspiring to be able to touch base with other people, see what they’re doing, you know, just to be able to kind of explore within this environment because of what’s available.”
Brian Reinker is an abstract and op-art artist. Working in the language of landscape, architecture, and topography, his colourful abstractions depict real and imagined places with the disciplined approach of an architect. Reinker aims to distill the essence of these places using a variety of techniques and media. His work can be found in collections in the UK, France, Spain, South Africa, Australia, Argentina and the USA. [www.brianreinker.com]
What is your definition of studio space?
It’s a number of different things for me. I guess mostly, it’s a place to work.
I used to work from home for a number of years and then I started to rent a space here; I’m at a place called Mixed Space Studios. It’s a really great studio environment. There are 64 Studios and we have people that are artists, painters, jewellery makers, fashion designers and illustrators; really a whole range of different things. It’s got a really great atmosphere and I really enjoy coming here. So for me, it enables me to leave my home, concentrate on what I’m doing, but also it lets me be part of the community.
Since you’re in this collaborative/communal studio space and they are seemingly on the rise within London, do you believe this formula can work?
100% I think it’s the best way to go forward. I’ve been in studios or studio spaces where they only have painters, or where they only have fashion designers and I find the mix of people here, very, very inspiring. Everybody’s able to bring something different to the table.
We often meet in the common kitchen area for lunch, or now that the weather’s nice outside, where there’s some garden space. It’s really nice and inspiring to be able to touch base with other people, see what they’re doing, you know, just to be able to kind of explore within this environment because of what’s available.
Do you believe that London has an impact on your art?
100% Yeah, definitely. I’ve just finished a series called “London Sky,” where I observed the skies around the studio and my home at different periods during the day and I tried to interpret them using collage and paper trying to sense the mood of it. I always find London to be extremely inspirational for my artwork, but also just general life, theatre, friends and being able to go out. I’m really missing the buzz of the streets recently, as you can imagine.
Definitely, would you consider moving outside the city?
I actually left London for nine years. I moved here in 1986 from Ohio, where I come from. And then in 2002, I moved to South Africa for eight years, which I really loved. But even then, I always thought about going back to London, and being able to start using it as a base for creativity. I was able to come back seven or eight years ago, and only when I came back, I realised how much I missed it.
Do you think it would impact your work if you were to move out now? From London?
Yes, definitely, it would definitely impact my work. I guess if I was going to move out of London, I would probably move somewhere where the weather’s a bit better, because most of my work has recently been based on landscapes, so that would be another aspect of being able to bring that to my work. But I am afraid to leave because I’m afraid I’m gonna miss it too much. So it’s one of those things that’s kind of at the back of my head, but I really haven’t been able to action it or do I even want to action it at this point?
What do you think the future of studio space will look like?
There’s a number of new studio organisations I’ve seen that have been developed over the past few years, where they’re basically for commercial reasons. They’re set up as professional studios and they have a high level of services. I think that’s a really interesting concept, but I don’t know if they’re going to be able to get the different types of trades, different types of people, different types of artists in there, because they’re all quite expensive. And they’re mostly in the centre or just on the periphery of Central London. I think that might be a problem with them in the future, because they cost so much they can only get people that are of a certain level of income in their art. Where I’m at now, we’ve got people ranging from A to Zed with their careers and where they are in their careers. I find that very, very inspiring to be able to speak to artists that are just starting out, as well as artists that are very settled and successful, and to get feedback from those types of people, the whole range.
How do you believe we can ensure artists remain in London in the future?
I think there’s lots of initiatives that could go on with that. Certainly one of the things that I’ve been discussing with some of the people here is that the London high streets in general, have so many empty shops on them everywhere. There are spaces in Central London and zone two that are just empty and not being used. I think it would be great to have some kind of government or council initiative to be able to use these spaces for artists or artist/gallery spaces, because they’re just sitting empty now. If those were able to be made available at a good cost, I think it will also be able to invigorate the high streets and also give people a space to go that could be close to their homes, and also allow them to be part of the streetscape and part of the community, which I think could be a really interesting development going forward in the future.
And that kind of ties into my last question; how do you think artists can collaborate and communicate with developers to try to maintain that cultural community?
I tell you what’s interesting, I do have an example of one of the artists here. His name is Tom Cox and he has started working with developers where he does a lot of London’s streetscapes and street scenes. The developers have contacted him to do paintings and drawings of the neighbourhood where their developments are being put up, mostly apartment buildings and some offices now. And that, I think, is a really great initiative for the commercial side. To tap into that talent, and use it. I know the work that he’s done has now been displayed in the common parts and lobbies of a couple of buildings that they’ve been doing. So he’s getting exposure and the developers are being able to use their finances to support an artist. I think people like seeing art about neighbourhoods, buildings, architecture and about the spaces they live in. So I think that’s one avenue that could be further developed and explored.