As Arts Editor, I had the privilege of interviewing Jordy Kerwick for CUB Magazine about his exhibition ‘Diary of an Introvert’ running at Delphian Gallery from the 7th until the 16th of December. Looking at his work, it is hard to believe that Kerwick only started painting three years ago and it comes as no surprise that he has amassed 30,000 dedicated Instagram followers. He is part of a new generation of artists who mobilise social media to connect, share and sell their work online.
Congratulations on your first UK solo exhibition! How do you feel about showcasing your work here compared to previous locations?
Thanks so much Moneeka. Feeling very honoured and privileged to be given the opportunity to show some work with Delphian, and by virtue, show some work in a city which plays such a critical role in the art world. It’s a little nerve-wracking showing in London but at this stage of my “career”, I tend to s*** myself a little bit wherever I show!
After exhibiting your work in cities such as New York and across Europe, where has been your favourite place to showcase your art?
I’m trying not to be a fence sitter, but I still pinch myself at the prospect of showing anywhere. Each experience has been one of its own to date, so it’s very hard to say. I do hold last years Paris show a little close to my heart though, as I was able to do a two man show with one of my best mates, Justin Williams, so that was cool. Paris played such a seminal role in the way that we look at art and make art, its hard not to feel inspired when you get to show some paintings there.
Your exhibition at Delphian Gallery is called Diary of an Introvert. What inspired this title?
Its taken me a while to work out why I paint what I paint and I feel that I have only just realised that all of my paintings are really just diary entries. For this particular show, all of the paintings where made at home amongst the sometimes chaos and sometimes quiet of family life. Painting at home, as opposed to the studio, provides certain levels of solace that I don’t think I could get anywhere else. A sense of comfort and familiarity. The older I get, the more socially awkward I seem to be getting, but at home, in full introversion mode, I’m ok.
You’ve got a great presence on Instagram with an impressive amount of followers. What is it like displaying your work online compared to a physical gallery?
Well Instagram is a flat medium, so palette and composition are really the only things that get picked up. A lot of people don’t realise that there is generally a heavy component of collage involved in the pictures. So I think that when people see them in real life, it’s a nice little surprise to see the depth in the work that they didn’t/couldn’t pick up on Insta. All that being said, nothing beats hanging a picture on a wall and seeing it up close.
You’ve also only started painting three years ago. What you have achieved in this time is incredible. What first inspired you to paint?
Thank you. My wife bought me paints when I was feeling a little overwhelmed at work. We had been collecting art for a short while and I had read a lot about it and looked at art a lot, so it felt like a logical sequence to buying/reading/looking. Then I got a little obsessed and had to make things every day. And it’s been like that ever since really. So I owe it all to my beautiful wife who has put up with me getting paint everywhere and has allowed me to go down the not so stable path of full time painting.
What has the journey been like over these last three years from your first painting to this show?
It’s been wild. And an adjustment. I’ve always worked with people and in teams and this new vocation is a very solitary one. So now I forget how to talk to people without mumbling. There are also so many amazing people that have helped me along this road who have been generous with their time and feedback. I’m just very appreciative to everyone that has supported me and bought some work along the way and been kind enough to take a risk on a guy with little experience.
Your fascinating depiction of life and the domestic reminds me of some of Matisse’s work such as Spanish Still Life. What artists have inspired your work?
Matisse is the master and hands down (in my humble opinion) the greatest artist of all time. He is a huge influence. Not only his painting, but his tenacity and down right refusal to every give up. I’m hugely influenced by Motherwell, Frankenthaller, Kline, and Twombly too. Generally speaking, I get more from the abstract expressionists than I do the modernists.
Do you have any other influences which spur your creativity?
Music gets me going every day. Particularly the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Patti Smith. Reading also makes me want to paint. Plucking a sentence here and there for inspiration helps. Also drawing with my eldest son, Sonny. He has really come along over the past few months and watching him draw and commentate along the way is bloody brilliant. I get all gushy and have little proud Dad moments.
Flowers are regularly the centrepiece of your work. After exploring your Instagram I’ve noticed you’ve mentioned they vary from edible flowers to being captioned as a ‘spark’. How does the species of flower influence what you wish to convey?
For ages I painted a made up flowers, just changing the colour of the flower. As much I loved this, I needed to paint something different. So Sonny and I went to a rare flower and cactus place about an hour from our home and I bought some Venus Fly Traps, Orchids, cactus etc and I thought Id have a go at painting them. I wish there was a subliminal message behind the choice of flower, and there sometimes might be, but generally it comes down to what I feel like painting.
I also love the stack of books they often rest on. What lies behind the choice of which poet or philosopher you choose to ascribe each book to?
They are usually books I’ve read, am going to read and probably never will read, even though I want to. I bought Satre’s “Being and Nothingness” years ago and I desperately want to read it but am now at peace with the fact that I don’t have the mental intellect to understand the bloody book. I’m just not smart enough to get it. Read it – absolutely…but it would be an exercise of futility as I wouldn’t absorb a single thing. But a lot of those authors and poets I have read and gained little bits of inspo from them as people, as much as their work.
The books also give subtle hints of human life. What intrigues you about the domestic and its embodiment in art?
For the most part, it is in a domestic environment that you experience art. I think I’m intrigued by the idea of making something that is subtly interesting enough to make the viewer find new little bits and pieces each time they look at the work. Books help domesticate or bring a sense of peace to most situations I think. They are, by and large, an indicator of “me time” which has become an almost invaluable commodity these days, with social media, text messages, email etc.
Do you have any future projects planned after your exhibition at Delphian? Are there any new artistic directions you wish to explore?
I’d be honoured to work with Delphian in the future. I love their model and tenacity. They work their backsides off and I respect that enormously. I’m about to go down a rabbit warren of domestic inspired cut outs. Kind of reverse Matisse. He ended his career with cut outs but given I have a two and four year old son, the timing seems perfect to really embrace the naivity and simplicity of cut outs. I’m really excited about it and will be exhibiting them next March at TW Fine Art. Fingers crossed they look ok!