project corona... kez dearmer

Project Corona:
Painter Kez Dearmer talks about creating from your bedroom, romanticisation and controlling time

30th March, 2020

Creating small works makes everything much more manageable. You don’t get overwhelmed, and you can achieve things a lot quicker

Kez Dearmer is a South London based painter. Kez’s work is darkly comic and deadpan, featuring symbolic figurations that draw from film and television and his own personal archive of photographs.

Kez studied and graduated from Chelsea College of Arts studying Fine Art in 2018. His work features in various private collections around the globe and can be found in LA, Brooklyn and Normandy. He is also art director and one half of The Neat Review (@neatrvw) - an ad hoc journal exploring the crossovers between art and magic.

How did you get into painting?

I was always drawing from a young age, and for the longest time I wanted to be an illustrator. From the age of sixteen I realised I could open myself up to other styles and mediums, and still be satisfied with the outcome. Painting came about when I started oil painting. I did ink drawing for years. It took a while to learn, but once I felt comfortable, I never looked back.

What do you think about Covid-19 from an artists perspective?

It’s a cliche that you grow up reading about your favourite artists and their romanticised lifestyles. Coronavirus can feed into that cliche. The context of being stuck inside during a pandemic is easily romanticised. I think a lot of young artists have the idea that each individual's story should be about suffering, so I think a lot of people might start using this experience to fuel that idea. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad, but if people create more then maybe that’s a good thing.

Kez Dearmer Self-Portrait, 2020

You work part time at both TATE and Schuh, and like so many others, are told to stay home because of Covid-19. How are you finding being out of work?

I’m lucky in that I work for two companies that possess a great attitude towards keeping their workers in good health and comfort in times like these. Sadly, the hospitality sector and smaller businesses are suffering, in which they’re unable to support their workers as much as others.

It’s a good idea to try and reserve money where possible at this point. Naturally not being outside the house means that you’re less inclined to spend money, which is usually a given living in London. You have more time to plan and prepare, and luckily my practice doesn’t require much expenditure. 

How have you kept productive during self-isolation?  

I’ve based my studio in my room, and because my room is small I’ve been creating fairly small paintings. I’ve been working on free wooden floor samples. I don’t like to rule out big paintings but space is definitely a factor, and creating small works makes everything much more manageable. You don’t get overwhelmed, and you can achieve things a lot quicker. You see results a lot faster, and it can really help to make you feel like you’ve achieved so much in such a small amount of time.

“You don’t feel rushed by time, there are no restraints, but that can also have negative effects”

I like to have something on in the background, especially something I’ve seen and am comfortable with. I’ve been listening to a lot of music and rewatching a lot of films. I like discovering new music and films, but I like my focus to be on them. By this point, brush to paper is pure instinct, which allows me to focus on that ‘background film’.

Do you feel like this new found sense of time is a blessing in disguise?

It’s tough. It works in your favour because you don’t have to do anything else apart from look after what’s around you, especially if you’re not working right now. You don’t feel rushed by time, there are no restraints, but that can also have negative effects. I feel like I need to start writing plans for each day to attain some sort of structure.

I think it’s going to be easier for people to get lazy and lonely. I think it’s important to have materials around you so that you don’t find it difficult in releasing your creativity. If possible, I suggest other artists get what they need from their studios - while they can.

I’ll usually paint until I have to go to work, so I know I have a certain amount of hours, or after work I’ll paint until I have to go to sleep. Now I can stay up until I want to, and work until I want to. Time is now completely in your control.

View, collaborate and learn more about Kez Dearmer below: / @omg_who_kez


words, images: patrick taylor 

uoh 2020 — @uok.hun