Art & Design blog: Painting

XETH talk to artist Rajesh Soni

Artist / designer:   Rajesh Soni
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Wed, 5 Oct 2016


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘On The Way To Play Music For Happiness’, Oil Painting

Rajesh Soni is an Indian artist living in Udaipur, Rajasthan where he manages Gallery One. He is well known for his hand painted digital photographs, sketching and drawing. Rajesh is the son of artist Lalit Soni and the grandson of Prabhu Lal Soni, who was once court photographer to the Maharana Sir Bhopal Singh of Mewar. The skills of hand-coloring photographs were passed down to Rajesh through the intermediary of his father.

Rajesh has also collaborated on various creative projects with American photographer and writer Waswo X. Waswo since 2007. Their joint work featured in the exhibition ‘A Studio in Rajasthan’ which toured India and led to further exhibitions throughout Europe. Their next joint exhibition, organised by Tasveer Gallery, is titled ‘Photowallah’ and opens on 8th October at Exhibition 320, Delhi.

At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

Since the age of 12 I have been interested in art because I saw my father panting. He was my first teacher.

What’s your proudest achievement so far?

I am so happy and lucky that I chose art in my life. I have been showing my work in countries including Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland. In India I got the chance to work with Waswo X. Waswo who is an American photographer living in Udaipur for the past 12 years. I work as a hand colourist for his black and white photos.


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘The Priest From Shiva Temple At Chandpol’, Oil Painting

What’s the most challenging aspect of your work?

It’s not easy being an artist and it’s not easy to find honest people who will support your work.

What are your top three favourite songs?

‘Beautiful’ by James Blunt, ‘Lean On’ ft. MO by Major Lazer & DJ Snake and ‘Anga La De’ from the Bollywood movie  Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-leela.


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘The Susses’ Series

What is your favourite art gallery and why?

I love my own art gallery, Gallery One Udaipur because each work is unique and different.

Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?
Raja Ravi VarmaPablo Picasso and Salvador Dali


Credit: Rajesh Soni, ‘Old Shop Since My Childhood’, Original Sketch

Have you got any exciting projects coming up in the near future?
I am working on photoshoots about the lives of women and their amazing support.

If you weren’t an artist what other career would you have chosen?

What advice would you give to younger people who want to work in the creative industry?
Be happy and enjoy the moment. Don’t run after things!


Credit: Portrait Of The Artist Rajesh Soni

To see more of Rajesh Soni’s work, please visit his Instagram account; rajeshsoniudaipur

XETH interviews Charlotte Keates

Artist / designer:   Charlotte Keates
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Thu, 30 Jul 2015


Portrait of the artist

Charlotte Keates is a London based-artist who has exhibited throughout the UK. Graduating with a BA First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art from Falmouth University, Keates’ work is currently represented by The Porthminster St Ives , The Project Gallery Arundel & Arusha Gallery Edinburgh.

Born in 1990 in Somerset,Keates aims to create intriguing and surprisingly illusionary interiors inspired by 1960’s and 70’s classical architecture. The landscape and sea with swimming pools and birch trees consistently feature in her work.

At what age did you start to take an interest in the field you work in?

I’ve always loved to draw. From my primary school days I could always be found with a pad of paper and pencil wherever I was. I know that sounds like a cliche but it is completely true. Drawing has always been so important to my practise and I think it wasn’t until my foundation year at University that I really discovered painting. I had a fantastic tutor; Simon Averill, and with much encouragement I decided then that I wanted to be a painter


The Retreat, Charlotte Keates

What are your top three favourite songs?

A difficult question. I always have to have something on in the background whilst painting which means I’m happy listening to a wide variety of music. I’m really not overly fussy about music.

What is your favourite London gallery and why?

 I think I’d opt for Tate Britain. If ever I’m in need of inspiration or motivation you’ll always find me there. Their permanent collection being the main reason. Having said that, I love the architecture at The Royal Academy and the feel of the space; architecture and interiors playing such a key role in my paintings.I’m always really interested in the relationship between gallery space and artwork.  The Hayward Gallery also uses their space really well and shows some fantastic work.


Atelier, Charlotte Keates

Name three creatives who have inspired you over the past 10 years?

Dexter Dalwood, a painter whose collage-like paintings have fascinating concepts and conspiracy theories surrounding them.  Mamma Andersson, a Swedish artist whose paintings are truly beautiful. I was lucky enough to attend her Private View at The Stephen Friedman Gallery in London a couple of years ago. And of course David Hockney; his early works, in particular the 60’s and 70’s.


Have you got any exciting commissions/exhibitions/projects happening or coming up?

Yes, lots and lots of exciting things over the next year!

Having just exhibited a collection of work at The Porthminster Gallery – St Ives, another selection of work at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead with Arusha Gallery – Edinburgh, plus a big commission for a London-based Interior Designer. My painting life is very lively and somewhat challenging.

I also have works showing in both the Summer Shows at The Gatehouse Gallery – Guernsey, and The Project Gallery – Arundel. It’s so important for me to keep inspired and see new places, having just been to Cairo and Greece. I am very excited to see what I paint next. When painting after a short trip to Iceland earlier this year, I really started to notice certain elements finding their way into my work.

Plus, ahead of me too is the planning for exhibitions of my work at Arts Fairs in Manchester and Liverpool, along with the Affordable Art Fair Battersea in the Autumn.


If you weren’t involved in the creative industry what other career path might you have chosen? 

I’m really not too sure. Everything that I think of seems to be creative in one way or another. My immediate thought tends to lean towards possibly Architecture or Interior Architecture.


Portrait of the artist

For further information about the artist, please visit their website


Michael Chance on launch of Mercer Chance art gallery, London

Artist / designer:   Michael Chance
Article author:   Ricky Thakrar
Published:   Thu, 16 Oct 2014

Lapetus Transition Zone - Monotype, 76x54cm

Michael, you explore far-away worlds in much of your artwork. Is this primarily fantasy or is there a more scientific interest in the extra-terrestrial?

It’s science fiction, certainly, but not sci-fi. Depicting a foreign environment allows more freedom to play with the image outside conventional notions of landscape. The fact that many of them could appear to be earthly environments is testament to the variety of our earth… or perhaps it’s rather the sign of an earth-bound imagination.

Titan North Polar SAR map - monotype, chine colle, quill pen, 50x36cm

Your most distinctive work mixes soft media such as charcoal and graphite with structure in the form of graphs, technical annotation, architectural studies and cartography… what has influenced this combination?

In an artwork I try to express the totality of my interest in a certain place, which begins with a powerful aesthetic feeling, but may include conceptual information displayable only in graphical form or text. I try to never use graphs or data purely for effect, they are always rooted in real figures or have particular fixed meanings within my own narrative. I want everything to be readable at close range, whilst resolving to a more simple tonal impression from a distance.

I studied Peter Greenaway’s films at university and love how his use of layered image, geometry and text allows for an expansion in the possibilities of cinematic representation. The arrangement of and interplay between each element is deeply thoughtful yet also absurd, self-parodying.

St Paul's Distortion - Charcoal, graphite, 110x124cm

Whilst you studied at The Prince’s Drawing School, London, and much of your work is rooted in its disciplines, you also have a more romantic streak, producing Turner-esque landscapes in oil.  How do you relate to both?

The Drawing School is often misconceived as a reactionary return to old-fashioned academic values. In fact my experience on The Drawing Year opened me up to draw with much more freedom and really made me question all my assumptions about what constituted good drawing. After the course I felt able to meaningfully connect and combine my printmaking, drawing and painting practices in a fluid continuum.

Turner is a huge influence. He was a maverick, talented and sensitive as he was head-strong, he had the perfect balance between schooling and rebellion. He shows landscape as if witnessing a series of phase transitions; liquid, gas, earth and plasma intermixing, each struggling free from its conventional confines, interchangeable, unified in chaotic change.

Tintern - Oil on board, 152x122cm

Your new gallery, opening in Hoxton on 24th October 2014, will function as an open studio allowing members of the public to watch the artistic process in action. How do you think this will affect the work that you produce?

Well, thankfully I can close the curtain so I don’t have to be peered at all the time, especially when I’m doing unintentionally ‘arty’ chin-scratching poses! But it does mean that people will be able to come into our studio on certain days and see a variety of work, finished and in progress, and see it in the context of its making, which can be much more interesting that an impersonal blank gallery wall.

We both paint and draw outdoors a lot too, so we’re not going to be stuck in a fishbowl. I don’t think that being visible will affect my work in style or approach, I think I have some fairly unshakeable interests and principles to work by at the moment.

As well as yourself and co-founder Rachel Mercer using the space as a studio, you intend to exhibit the work of others.  How will your exhibitions compare to what’s on offer elsewhere in London?

We  want to exhibit work that is built upon a foundation of observation, contemplation and practised use of the artist’s medium, without imposing any restraints for the sake of commercial appeal.

I suppose I see a widening gulf between two extremes: private commercial ‘artefact’ or ‘investment’ art, and publicly-funded ‘experience’ or ‘engagement’ art. Both exist in an institutional context and are subject to certain restrictions and pressures, both are essentially outward looking and driven by novelty.  Representational art is criticised as ‘not enough’, ‘boring’, ‘conservative’; whilst conceptual art is equally bad-mouthed as ‘charlatanism’, ‘pretentious’, ‘inaccessible’.

This situation is ill-fitting for the artist who looks inward, making art not for the market, but to satisfy her interests, sensitively filtering her experiences and observations, searching for meaning that is deeply personal, yet universally resonant. I would describe this as a poetic approach.

Many blockbuster installation pieces make much of their anti-capitalist credentials by claiming that they are transitory; information, not product. However, they are consumed without much true contemplation; they are middle-class cosmopolitan fun fairs which do not last long in the memory, beyond the Monday morning cultural brag session. Further, they are often materially expensive and ecologically wasteful.

I used to feel completely anti-product, anti-selling-work, but I’ve come to realise that if you create something unique, soulful, made from humble materials, that will outlast you many times over and continue to provide pleasure and provoke thought throughout its lifetime at an un-inflated price – that is a true gift.

XETH interviews artist Suzanne De Emmony

Artist / designer:   Suzanne De Emmony
Article author:   Charlotte Bradford
Published:   Tue, 12 Feb 2013

At what age did you start to take an interest in art?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in art.

As a child, I spent a lot of time with my Grandmother, who was incredibly creative – she really encouraged me to make and to draw.


Have you got any exciting projects/commissions coming up in the near future?

I’m really excited about an upcoming collaboration with Black & Blue Restaurants to produce large scale works for their Wimpole St branch.  They are very supportive and  really enthusiastic about forging relationships with artists, I’m fortunate to be working with them.

This project has also given me the opportunity to collaborate with an amazing Fine Art Printer, Agnieszka Gadomska-Miles.  She has an artist’s eye and has really enabled me to re-look at the work which is not only essential for this particular project, but will, I hope, inform future work

I also have a couple of exhibitions lined up in the next few months including Start13 at the Bermondsey Project Space in Feb plus the next Plan.Open show, ‘SuperScale’, curated by Artch’s at Arbeit’s new gallery in Hackney Wick. This kicks off early March and promises to be a really interesting show.


Please could you tell us a bit more about your work and the medium you work in?

My practice is multi-disciplinary, primarily focused upon drawing, painting and collage and often mediated via projection and photography.

I’m interested in the possibilities of creating nostalgic and/or psychological narratives that explore the often unreliable and slippery nature of memory.


What three things, be it a book, song, film, have inspired your most recent body of work?

1. I’m slightly obsessed by online or cyber culture, in particular the voyeuristic nature of its spectatorship, this has definitely inspired many of the ideas behind my work.

2. Although not necessarily an inspiration, but the combination of intrigue, fear and joy that I remember feeling as a child when I watched films like The Wizard of Oz or the animation of Ray Harryhausen (often from behind the sofa!) informs much of the work that I make.

3. I also read a lot of Ballard’s short stories when I first started this body of work … artist reading Ballard is a terrible cliche I know, but there you go…



If you could work for a client you haven’t yet dealt with who would it be and why?

I’ve never really thought about working for a client, it feels counter-intuitive to the process of being an artist.  A client generally involves a brief and at this point I’d much rather make work independently and freely and then see how people respond to it.

Its incredibly self-indulgent, I know, but I make the work to please myself and as a response to or exploration of the world as I experience it, Its rewarding if it resonates for other people but I don’t want that to be the drive behind its production… although my bank balance would probably be a little healthier if I did.


If you weren’t an artist what other career would you have chosen?

I’ve recently been to see Fuerza Bruta at The Roundhouse – my daughter’s and I have decided that we’d like to run away and join them….

I actually already had a career before becoming an artist.  I worked in television, initially in the puppet workshop at Spitting Image during the late 80’s/early 90‘s. I then moved into TV production where I freelanced until I had my third child (and my planned year long maternity leave expanded into 10 years!).

Alongside my work as an artist, I’m an arts volunteer for Kids Company and would definitely like to get more involved with the work that they do, they’re an amazing organization. They use Art Psychotherapy with many of their clients, that would certainly be an appealing alternative career.

Images Copyright Suzanne De Emmony


With a little help from Google Translate, Ricky interviewed French painter Jacques Jannin about his inspirations.

Jacques Jannin


XETH: Your paintings seem to glamourise women, much like Jack Vettriano does but without the overt sexuality.  Is this intentional?

Jacques Jannin: I don’t know much about Vettriano, but I very much admire the work of Johannes Vermeer – and Edward Hopper, no less! The women in my paintings are like mirages, reflections or dreams and this is how I present them.

XETH: Much of your work is set in rather luxurious environments.  Where does this focus originate?

JJ: I spent a lot of my career at architectural firms, working on home interiors and exteriors from various different perspectives. This influenced me, and I now paint works mixing inside and outside, mixing natural and artificial light. I don’t know whether I consider the interiors luxurious, but I like to introduce landscapes with large windows and maybe this is what gave you that feeling.

XETH: Although you’re French, many of your paintings are also set in America.  What is it that you love about the States?

JJ: I’m not a prolific traveller, and this might be why I’m a painter… to escape daily. I only went to the United States once – New York, years ago. I got there by boat and the immense skyscrapers revealed themselves from the mist in the distance. It was such a change from the landscapes of France and Paris… New York, this city that fascinates, obsesses and disturbs me. Now travel there through my painting.

XETH: You mentioned travel by boat – the ocean seems to be another inspiration for you?

JJ: Yes, I’ve painted many ocean scenes… the Normandy coast, the landscape of the Seine Estuary that can be admired at Sainte Addresse, close to Le Havre.

Jacques Jannin


XETH: Films also feature heavily in your work, either as still images hung on walls or screenings in cinema settings.  What are your favorite movies and why?

JJ: I have a taste for black and white films, and I loved westerns when I was a kid. Now I like to watch movies with Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe… My favourite American film is ‘Suspicion‘ by Alfred Hitchcock, with Joan Fontaine and Cary Grant. I also like the new wave movement: François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard with his beautiful film ‘Breathless’… I could cite many others. I love these films and their atmosphere of mystery that captures the imagination even when you’ve seen them a hundred times.

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