We asked Scott Kemp how often he raises his voice and he tells us: "not often. I speak softly." We only asked because of how seemingly passive and visually subdued Kemp’s art objects are in first view. It got us wondering how much of one’s personality shows up in their art and, like in Kemp’s work, where the logic of a piece starts and where personal tastes come in.
The Vancouver-based artist recently exhibited Master and Apprentice, Lobster and Leaf at the artist run centre Duplex. The show takes an ostensibly nonlinear route to talk about complex ideas of social structures as they relate to his personal experience and upbringing. We talk to Kemp about the show and among other topics, his experience at Emily Carr, Ira Glass, Corn Pops, and how he's been financing his creative pursuits thus far.
LK: How are you doing these days?
SK: I’m all over the map but I’ve been feeling excited about a few projects I’m working on/thinking about, and I’m interested in the direction my art practice has been going recently. So generally I’ve been feeling optimistic.
LK: Congrats on Master and Apprentice, Lobster and Leaf ! How do you feel it turned out? What kind of feedback have your received?
SK: Thanks! I’m happy with the way that show turned out. I’ve been working on the body of work for close to a year, slowly thinking through it’s content, presentation, the reasoning behind it etc. It’s nice to see that effort realized.
Immediate feedback I’ve gotten on the show has been positive overall but it’s only been up for about two weeks and good critical reflection usually takes time so we’ll see! I have had one conversation about whether exhibiting the work as it is declares the collection a finished thought or a finished product or something like that. I don’t think it does, or at least I hope it doesn’t. I would really like the opportunity to continue developing the work, to see how it evolves and how my ideas about it evolve, or whether they do.
LK: Great show title by the way. Where did it come from?
SK: The title came from a short text I wrote. If you visit the exhibition, that text is sitting on a table in the middle of the space and is free to take as a handout. For me it’s the most important part of the show, I wrote it before I made any of the stuff that ended up in the show. The body of work is kind of built around it.
Master and Apprentice, Lobster and Leaf focuses on imagery of lobsters and of weed leaves as they exist apart from the actual biological species they represent. I chose the two subjects because of their histories, because they are both well known and easy to engage with. I wanted to treat the representations as real entities autonomous from their biological sources, and in that vein I brought the two together in the hopes that they would communicate to learn from and grow with one another. In the context of the exhibition the “lobster” is characterized as being older and maybe wiser than the “leaf” because it’s been distributed as a representation for longer. Master and apprentice: lobster and leaf.