"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
The art voyeur has often fawned over the luxury artist's studio, and even seen the artist's bed—but the place the real working action happens must surely be the desk (or desktop). Desks for many mean 9 to 5 imprisonment and paperwork drudgery, a dumping ground of daily deitritus—but what does a desk mean to an artist, and what do they keep on it?
From toxic paint mixes to disordered pornographic clippings, the items on an artist's desk give clues to the work in progress, the method in motion. For our Frieze Edition, we've asked three artists exhibiting at Frieze Week 2015 to send us a picture of their personal work top and tell us about its contents.
Artist, Tours, France
My desk is located at the bottom right of my new studio. The laptop runs Linux and is connected to a second 4:3 screen. I've always got piles of newspapers lying around, (I must sort it out one day, some have been there a long time), tracing paper, pieces of tape, many pencils; some never used. Besides that, there are some notebooks and sketches scattered on the table and on the wall. I like to work in low light; this is why my desk lamps are always facing up. I think, my studio lacks a plant. During the day, some neighborhood children sometimes visit me, to see what I'm doing. Or just to use the toilet.
Massinissa Selmani will be in conversation at 1:54 Fair, Somerset House, at 1.30pm on Friday, October 16.
Artist, East London
My desk is an old kitchen table with a faded checked melamine top, very English. I paint here standing up, working in oils and pencil directly onto Polaroid prints. On top is my favourite Polaroid camera given to me by my (now) husband for our first Christmas; lots of empty film packs and stacks of my snaps ready to paint over. I'm quite messy. There are paint tubes; pencils and brushes; an offcut of Formica I've used as a palette for years; a flyer for my last installation; tickets for The Other Art Fair; my sketchbook and a wire brush I use when painting on wood or canvas. Behind it are stuck up Polaroids I've already made into my colourful “City Skies London” paintings, alongside new shots I took recently in Berlin for my next series. I seek inspiration by walking in cities all over the world and bring the snaps back to my table in Bethnal Green to work from.
Sarah Kudirka is showing at The Other Art Fair, London, October 15-18 at stand 35.
Painter, Amsterdam and Kolkata
This was my desk at the Laurenz Haus Foundation studio in Basel, Switzerland, where I was working from August 2014 until June this year. My desktop was a place that not only served its function of storing my material, but more importantly became a space for different thoughts. As a painter who travels, I have learnt to setup what I call my workstation which is essentially a mobile studio. My station acts as a visual thinking board which contain my most recent references that I have been researching for my artwork. The station is a mix between my technological and painterly tools that enable me to transform my images into drawings and paintings. This further helps me with expanding upon a ‘notational methodology’ in which I explore the links between what appear to be disparate imagery. It is a means to triangulate my position in a landscape which is constantly evolving and mutating both physically and geo-politically.