The art of Guy Whitworth

Queer artist Guy Whitworth unveils his debut solo show Like Neon Within.

When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?
I have to say, I never really didn’t. As a child I was always drawing and was always the arty kid at school. My parent’s main concern was that I was obsessed with drawing willies. So, no change there then.
 
Did you train formally or are you self taught?
I actually studied fashion in London. But it was such a step backward for me as an artist; to be constantly surrounded by people whose only fascination was the external. My ‘in-between exhibition’ money now comes from working as a costume designer which is half way between fashion and creative art, (or it is on good days anyway!)
 
Who are some of your influences?
Wow, I just have so many. Basquiat was genius. Emily Carr; a painter who really understood colour. I’m trying to get The Hon Michael Kirby to sit for me for an Archibald entry, he has such integrity; I’d say he’s one. I’m kind of obsessed with pop art. Grace Jones I love; so unique, androgynous yet commercial.
 
Your work seems very guided by neon colours. Talk us through that.
This exhibition is really a collection of portraits and nudes that I’ve been working on for a few years. I believe when our outer layers and daily burdens are stripped away we all posses an energy and inner strength despite the limitations society pushes upon us. The colours in my paintings represent beliefs, passions and dreams. That is what I am trying to capture.
 
You identity as a gay artist. Do you think your work is reflection of that?
I’m a gay immigrant who doesn’t hold the right to marry his long-term partner. That makes me angry. There is anger and passion in my work. There could be no line between who I am and what I do.
 
Do you see the work in a sexual context?
Haha, you know I get asked that a lot, but honestly; no! Firstly, half my models are female so that’s never gonna tickle my pickle and then it’s just so damn un-sexy worrying about light, form, colour and so on, when I have a model. So sorry to bunk the myth, but there’s no sexy shenanigans in my studio.
 
Who would you most love to have sit for you for a portrait?
Easy; God! And I’d have him holding a sign he wrote saying ‘Actually, I don’t hate fags!’

Like Neon Within
is showing at The Pine Street Gallery, 64 Pine street, Chippendale from 2 November to 12 November.

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First published on 11 Oct 2011. Updated on 13 Oct 2011.

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