Although a very successful Fine Art Degree graduate of Southampton’s now Solent University (where he saw his endeavors evolve from figurative painting to video & performance), Vin Warrican chose not to further pursue an academic art practice. Instead, he settled upon what he saw as a necessary familial duty for the benet of his parents. It was a decision that would, for a time, allow Warrican to engage in a somewhat dilettante, but, nonetheless, atypical art practice centered around video screen captures, slide projection, and analog in-camera techniques.
The subsequent group and solo exhibitions he participated in embroidered a colorful thread through an otherwise unremarkable tapestry of oce employment. The familial duty would eventually lead Warrican to witness the sudden, difficult, and irrevocable decline of his father to work-related cancer in 2009. Later within the same year of his father’s passing, his mother, would manifest the unmistakable signs of, and be diagnosed with, Alzheimer’s.
This gut-plunging axis shift provided Warrican with another life choice: to completely give up employment and social pursuits in order to become the sole carer for his mother. It was a purpose he would full for the next ten years. And yet, within this decade of repetition, routine and reassurance where the parent became the child, and the child the parent- a seeming lifetime in and of itself- Warrican was slowly able to evolve a new art practice for himself. At first, implementing a cathartic regime to punctuate his many chores as a care-giver, Warrican began to fashion & construct one-sixth scale figures from purchasable doll and action figure parts. Known as ‘kitbashing’, this hobby became an almost Frankenstein-like undertaking, but without the horror and dire existential consequence of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Over many months, this growing troupe of plastic homunculi became photographic subjects. And thus, at day’s end when chores were completed and his mother slept, Warrican embarked on a new photographic practice. The employment of a smartphone with its default editing features proved to be a revelatory experience with its accessibility and immediacy for editing- a darkroom at his fingertips.
For the next few years, both Warrican’s cathartic process of kitbashing and photographic practice evolved side by side and became more sophisticated. Eventually, the seemingly inevitable realization of each figurative composition no longer satisfied. The unplanned details in the backgrounds of these pictures, the result of a palimpsest of liters and manipulation, however, began to fascinate Warrican with their beauty and color. By 2015, Warrican began to explore greater abstraction within his photography. It was this moment that marked a move away from cathartic exercise to a far more considered and aesthetic creativity.
This embracing of abstraction heralded the production of far more colorful and process-heavy compositions such as ‘The Proverbial Explosion’, (2015): itself inspired by both Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Explosion’ (1965-6) and the heavy, nimbus, uidity of Kim Keever’s aquarium photography. The summer of 2018 saw the passing of Warrican’s mother, Inez, at the age of 93. Profoundly bereft of purpose for several months, Vin Warrican would come to realize the true legacy of that choice he made nearly twenty-ve years earlier upon graduating. A legacy made further manifest now from the ten years of caring for his mother: a committed art practice uniquely his own to pursue unhindered, and without burden.
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Vincent: My artwork is photographic in nature, but I have striven to develop an atypical approach to it that embraces a painterly aesthetic through digital manipulation. Where before, during my early art education, I had first viewed photography as solely a means of documentation or reportage, I now see it as a malleable medium, as protean in its expression as any paint. Personal circumstances have led me to adopt the use of an android smartphone as the principal photographic tool in my practice. It has proven not only to be a versatile conduit for my unique creative expression but also the means, obviously, by which I have been able to get my work ‘out there’ on various social platforms. My present art practice, for the past ve years, has been predominantly abstract and centered around the exploration of how color and composition create cohesion. I am endeavoring to form and evolve a more consistent body of work through differing series of works informed by recurring themes, narratives, and methodology.
This abstract practice is sporadically punctuated by figurative compositions that tend to be inspired, for the most part, by my fascination with aspects from genre fiction and classical mythologies.
What is the process from start to final artwork, do you envision it from the beginning or is it a different process?
Vincent: With my, now infrequent, figurative pieces the final artwork is indeed largely envisioned right from the beginning through the arrangement and manufacture of a model, costume, props, background, and the abiding narrative associated with these elements. Although some digital manipulation is employed, the outcome is still largely set. The inevitability of such pictorial conclusions led me to pursue abstraction to a far greater degree. And within that creative direction, there has been far greater liberty to experiment and explore myriad potential outcomes for composition through a palimpsest use of filters, photoshop enhancements, and manipulation available on my present smartphone. I tend to revisit past images that may not have been too successful back in their day, but now can be looked at through new eyes informed by new practiced techniques. In this recycling of media, my abstract practice is self-sustaining: nothing is wasted or discarded for too long; merely dormant and waiting to be untapped. Although this use of past work, was largely determined during the time I was a caregiver, it continues to yield new discoveries and surprises. Nonetheless, in order to avoid complacency and potential staleness in my practice, I have, over the past year, explored, and engaged in an atypical approach to photo transfer printmaking. In tandem with learning a new (for me) more traditional methodology, with lesser digital intervention, this has resulted in such images as ‘So Late Into The Night’ and ‘Once Plucked’ that now make up my ‘Inkling’ series. As a creative experience, it has been both refreshing and revelatory, greatly adhering to the underlying tenet of my art practice: to produce a coherent body of work by exploring how color and composition create cohesion.
What is your most recent piece of art that you have enjoyed working on the most?
Vincent: ‘So Late into The Night’ was the tenth piece in my recent ‘Inkling’ series of photographic images. This series was centered around the production of work by chane and serendipity from within a creative process rather than as a determined end result of said process. In this case, the image was derived from documenting, and later enhancing through photoshop, the physical manipulation of printing ink on a glass plate during photo transfer printmaking. Here the ink was rolled and smoothed onto the surface at the beginning of the printmaking process, and, inevitably, scraped off and the plate cleaned at the end of the session. The formation of the composition came at this latter stage of cleaning the glass plate where I allowed myself the indulgence of inscribing into the inked surface with a broad palette blade. It was the most intuitive form of mark-making I had engaged in outside nearly a decade of my largely manipulated digital practice. The particularly elegant reversal of the ink providing the surface upon which to make marks resonated with exploration and discovery, chance, and
serendipity. The caress of sunlight through the studio window alighting upon the surface of the glass plate, and the alchemy of the pour of white spirit meandering across the scratched layer of ink provided the composition with a further ethereal illumination of texture, depth of color. It seemed truly an ephemeral moment of creativity never to be repeated again. And at that moment, as I photographed it, the true realization and nature of the image announced itself to me. Its melancholy midnight hues brought to mind the first verse of Byron’s poem, ‘So We’ll Go No More a Roving’, and with that, its title, ‘So Late into The Night’.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired your work.
Vincent: In the wake of my mother’s passing, the summer of 2018, to Alzheimer’s, I set a course to navigate the troubled waters between the Scylla and Charybdis of bereavement and a profound absence of purpose. Two months into this dark passage, and through the intervention of a beloved friend, I chanced upon a poster proclaiming a local theatre’s original production of ‘Medusa’, a modern interpretation of Greek Myth performed by the stand-up comedian, writer, and actress, Elf Lyons. Now, I had long held both an abiding fascination and overriding sympathy for the character, and the prospect of such a production was too tantalizing to pass up. That poster, the subject, the very name of its performer, wrought a subtle, and much needed glamour upon my mood. It was not merely inevitable that I would attend a performance of ‘Medusa’, it was a fait accompli. Even so, I could not have anticipated that I would in fact attend all three nights of its run. Of those three nights, I remember being captivated by Miss Lyons’s bravura reinterpretation of Medusa as a reclusive Mythical Superstar: a performance that was simultaneously monstrous in its honesty and amply impish in its charming absurdity. Not all monsters are truly villains. And not all goddesses, though wise, are without capricious cruelty. The play’s narrative touched upon: betrayed sisterhood; right to empowerment; persona and performance; and owning one’s nature, monstrous or not. I was enchanted by Theatre as never before. I was enthralled by its audacity. And I was imbued with an absolute need to create a response. Upon my return home after the second night’s performance, I began to compose what would become my ‘Gorgon Series’. By the end of the following week, I had completed a triptych of visages: ‘Stheno’; ‘Medusa’; ‘Euryale’.
What is the message you are trying to give with your art?
Vincent: There is no encompassing message within my work. My abiding emphasis on aesthetics, hopefully, allows me not only to seduce the viewer’s eye but also to
encourage a dialogue regarding the duality between a viewer’s interpretation of the work in question and my own intention as its artist.
How has your art evolved during times of difficulty, with your father passing and your mother being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s?
Vincent: For the longest time, between my father’s decline and demise in 2009, through to my mother’s diagnosis in the same year, and the first two years of my being her carer, there was simply no art. I lived only in the moment, seemingly in a state of impending calamity punctuated by eeting respite, and eventually, fundamental adjustment and adaptation. It was in my second year as a caregiver that I experienced something of an epiphany by which I realized that to take better care of my mother, I needed to take better care of myself- and thus I sought that which would make me happy. I embraced the juvenalia associated with videogames, the MCU movies, mythologies, and other such forms of genre narratives that had long continued to entertain and fascinate me. It was a necessary regression into escapism that had sown the very seeds of imagination and art in my distant youth. I was not an artist whose creativity would be stimulated by the circumstances and struggles that had befallen them, but rather by an escape from such circumstances. My creativity was slowly remade anew from the ground up, and not only to t snugly within my daily duties as a carer but also (as I realized later) to benet my execution of those duties, chores and solving related challenges. What I can now see now as an evolution in my art practice took several years. First, it was an exercise in catharsis whereby I designed and constructed original characters from spare doll 9and action figure parts, imagining their motives & narratives, that would be photographed within assembled tableaux. Known as ‘kitbashing’, this form of model making allowed me, for the first time, to successfully engage in a more three dimensional creative practice that had previously eluded my grasp. The resulting characters, their narratives, provided the subject matter for my figurative photographic practice. The employment of a smartphone with its default and downloaded editing apps allowed to me to experiment with filters and further manipulation. This was my practice, at the end of the day, for the next three years until 2015. During that time, my photographic practice became more sophisticated, and my use of editing and manipulation more process-heavy and elaborate. The seemingly inevitable realization of my figurative compositions, however, no longer satisfied. My photography was now not merely a cathartic outlet but had become a far more considered endeavor. I revisited older analog photographic work, that had not been successful, to serve as material for a greater exploration of abstraction and manipulation. As I had limited recourse to look further aeld for the subject matter, the digital mutation of these older pieces formed a new self-sufficient, self-sustaining art practice. The first successful composition I produced, which I still consider to be the flagship piece of my abstract practice, was ‘TheProverbialExplosion’, inspired in part by the works of Roy Lichtenstein and Kim Keever. My composing process heavy-colorful, photographic abstractions, punctuated, by similarly crafted figurative pieces, depicting established genre characters, continued in much the same way, at the end of the day, until the summer of 2018.
What is the best way to reach people who are interested in your work?
Vincent: Thus far, Instagram has proven a great platform to not only get my art seen but also for me to see the work of other artists regularly, particularly now during this Time of Pandemic. In the past ve months or so I have enjoyed a distinct upturn in responses to my posts from other artists and creative entities like galleries and art magazines such as your good selves. It is still early days, and I must explore how to engage more with potential viewers.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Vincent: 2020, for me, is the second year of my being back out in the world, as it were. It was largely going to be a period of creative reconnaissance. I had hoped to attend more gallery shows, art fairs, and other such physical spaces where Art is shown.
Do you see your art serving a purpose beyond art?
Vincent: That is an intriguing question, and, to me, almost akin to asking whether one’s heart serves a purpose beyond being a heart. Within its circulatory metabolism, the heart serves a vital purpose, but it is also seen as the conduit for abstracts such as Love & Hate. For me, the making of art has always been a necessary thing, like a beating heart, possessing a purpose in and of itself. It has also been a conduit for catharsis and healing, as well as a stimulant for atypical problem-solving in other areas of my life.