I started to have these dreams where I would be dancing with color flying out of my body leaving marks in the air. Since then I have started to combine dance and painting. Discovering a new form of blissfulness for me. I perform live painting directly onto a large canvas sheet, using the body as a means to paint. The beauty of the dance with paint performance is that it brings the audience with the artist on the creative process.
Within all my practices, drawing, painting, dancing, dancing with paint and even in life, I am exploring flow – the connection of movements and shapes in a way that becomes mesmerizing. The very nature of flow requires that there is no resistance, meaning that creating can become easy, spontaneous, thoughtless and more truthful when in this state of flow.
For a long time I ‘tried’ to create artwork that looked like what I imagined art ‘should’ look like. This resulted in artwork that was sketchy, misshaped, and forced. But this was part of the process, I soon learned that I have to let myself draw, paint, dance how I felt, free from any set of ideas or rule. Separating from the mind and letting the body takeover. Learning to realize that there is no right or wrong however subtle, by giving attention to every line, feeling, and decision. Letting the concept of mistakes disappear and creating new choices based upon breaking these habits and letting them evolve how they wish to evolve. My work is the result of me finally finding balance in letting myself flow into the world.
A Dance With Paint (Short Documentary)
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter etc.
Josh: At my core I am a dancer, I am obsessed with movement and the various shapes and possibilities it has to offer, along with the feeling it provides. Aside from this, I create large scale artworks through performance using movement and my body as a means to paint. This is often on canvas sheet laid out on the floor, 4x4m or something smaller on a wall with quality paper, and with acrylic paint. Alongside this, I also paint colorful abstract canvases in my room.
Art has taught me to dance, and dance has taught me how to create art. I love being in that meditative, playful, and creative state where time and attachment to thought just disappears, creation just becomes natural. I strive for this place when I create as it energizes me and its where I feel I make my best work. Usually, when I make my art I don’t have an image or an idea set, my paintings will evolve through layers with each new layer interacting with the last. With my Dance With Paints, I am trying to physicalize how it feels to dance. When I started painting I had dreams where paint and shapes would fly out of my body leaving marks in the air.
This process – performing with movement and painting, brings focus to the creative journey rather than the end result. The difference between other art is that there is a focus on the end result, you see the painting, or sculpture, which is a collection of all the moments that brought it together. I feel as an artist the reason I create and a lot of other artists create is because of that journey, we love being in that place of unknown, starting with a blank canvas and slowly something emerges through. Creation is spontaneous, its the same way thoughts just pop into our head, for this reason, I think the creative journey is as important as the end result. The beauty of the dance with paint performance is that it shows the journey of creation.
What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Josh: Unfortunately, I don’t have a studio other than my small room in my London flat that’s filled with paint and canvases, and for this reason, I have never practiced dancing with paint to the extent I would like – yet, also this is relatively new of an idea to me. Every time I have made one of these artworks has been as a performance/video shoot etc. Instead, I spend lots of time visualizing, thinking, and searching for new opportunities and places for my ideas.
I liken ‘the zone’ to meditation, but perhaps an active meditation, to get in the zone I will spend some time ‘walking through the muck’, making mistakes, letting myself do terrible scribbles, or moving my body in ways that move through any tensions I have. I aim to be free of judgments in this space by noticing my judgments and moving through them, making ‘bad work’, moving in ways that are ‘ugly’ or ‘wrong’. I would say its basically listening to what movements and shapes wish to come into creation, sometimes this would lead to not even creating artwork and me doing something else entirely, or I will start dancing or if I am dancing I will start drawing/painting/juggling/stretching/meditation and so on. Aside from this, just doing something different, like tidying up or going on a walk or looking at loads of art etc.
What was the first moment that you realized that dancing and painting is your style of choice?
Josh: I used to have these dreams where I would be moving and color and shapes would fly out of my body leaving marks in the air, which is almost exactly how I feel when I dance. This would be about 2 years ago in 2018, around when I first started painting. I had actually seen online a video of another dancer/artist – Bboy Menno who made a short clip of him dancing on a canvas and then it was only natural for me once I discovered painting to give it a go! After my first attempt at this, I felt alive and instantly knew this was going to be apart of my life.
Is there a message you are trying to give with your art?
Josh: I don’t think I have a specific message, I believe in creating art for art’s sake. To me, art in all its forms is a language much like words, maths, or science, however, art is not always understood through words, yet art in all its forms holds so much expression and has so much to say. I believe art can help us say and deal with what we can’t with words, helping us to express our problems, our joys, thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Instead, I would like you to feel my art, for then a connection is formed.
How has your art evolved over the years?
Josh: I feel that I have come closer to knowing myself through dance/art, and also that I have a better understanding of dance/art the more I come to know myself.
As I grow as an individual I see my art growing and vice/versa. I find that judgment has a massive influence over how I create, It pressures me into creating upon what I think something ‘should’ look like, usually when this is the case I don’t feel that powerful connection with what I am creating. This is also the case with the decisions I make in life, feeling that need to conform to what you think other people think about you. Learning how to detach from this through my art, by turning brushstrokes and movements that I originally considered ‘wrong’, ‘incorrect’, ‘mistakes’, and so on into something new by acknowledging and moving through them, turning them into the main feature.
Creating my art has slowly become more thoughtless as I think less about precision, achieving ideals, and the perfect painting or movement. However, my art is built up from all the ideas/concepts I’ve tried that I know work and as I slowly explore through my mistakes I find new things that I can play with, new rules, and ideas to break and combine. It’s still hard to say as I have only been painting for 3 years in between training at uni, so much of my art for the first 2 years felt like just understanding paint, brushes, canvases, and my relationship to them. I still feel very much at the beginning of my artistic journey.
What’s your favorite artwork?
Josh: I feel inspired by art that expands my understanding of what is possible with art, something that also has a lot of feeling or specifically abstract work that has a lot feeling, or something hard to understand yet it connects with you on some unknown level. I love Mr. Jago’s artwork with such vibrant colorful explosions. I was inspired by Johan Van Mullens ethereal and mesmerizing work. Something other than paintings I have been deeply inspired by is Lee Bull’s sculptures, these dangling metallic enchanting chandelier-esque clumps of frozen movement. I would recommend looking at her artwork I could stare at these sculptures all day and never be bored, her work lit a fire in me that needs to explore sculpture myself one day.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Josh: After one of my dance with paint performances, I received feedback from people with ADHD, and people who struggle with attention said watching my dance and paint was the first time in a long time they had been able to sit still and feel so calm. This was memorable to me for I had actually helped someone overcome something even if it was for a short time. One time after watching me perform someone once asked me to come and dance/paint with them to decorate there room. When I perform I make connections with people and I still remember many of those moments of smiles and eye contact. This for me is the most important response, as my dance with paint performances can last up to 50 minutes of improvised movement/painting, this becomes at times quite personal and exhausting, but with that simple acknowledgment and music I could easily go for hours more.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
Josh: I struggle to find places for my art, specifically dancing with paint, as its not just dance or just art, and it requires a lot of space (that might get messy), money, and effort. Collaborating with filmmakers (or anybody else) to make short videos that can then reach their audiences as well as mine has helped me create a clear example/body of work that I can show to people. Instagram has also been an excellent tool in reaching new people/audiences, and just constantly applying to new art opportunities! However simply what I feel has worked for me is taking up opportunities however small, meeting new people and putting myself out there. If you are connected with your work then I believe the effort and intention you output in any form, will come back to you over time.
Are there any upcoming shows or workshops we should know about (or canceled due to the Covid-19 situation)?
Josh: I had an exhibition and performance in my hometown Winchester, planned at the arts venue The Nutshell which was going to be alongside The Hatfair – a street-performance festival that takes over Winchester for the whole weekend. I would highly recommend coming to see The Hatfair next year!
Do you see your art as serving a purpose beyond art?
Josh: Art is felt, it transports us to places sometimes without saying anything. I think that in today’s society we spend a lot of time in our heads, thinking about the past, present, and future. Even though we spend so much time in thought I think we still struggle to know how to deal with our problems and heal. In this way, expression is so important for us all, to be able to communicate honestly and genuinely. Everyone is different and sometimes expressing through words is more difficult for some than others. I believe art can help us say what we can’t with words, helping us to express our problems, our joys, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
As I said earlier, I believe, art in all its forms is a language, a way of expression and communication, not always but often without words. For me, this is important as there are countless times where simply moving and making shapes has allowed me to release the energy of many forms which I don’t think I could in other aspects of my life. Reaching this heightened state of creation is what I live for, it’s something through practice I can easily achieve by dancing, simply because I’m a very physical person. Being in that zone which is hard to even describe, feeling more than alive, has given me a unique perspective on myself and the world around me which I think a lot of artists who have a strong connection to their work can relate to. When this creation is combined with other people and not just something individual the feelings can be magnified. In this place there is no judgment towards ourselves and others, no separation or barriers, our similarities become obvious and our differences disappear. For this simple reason, art can serve a purpose beyond art through bringing people together either through something that is combined or personal experiences, but collectively it could make the world a better place for us all.
To learn more about Josh and his art please check: