In conversation with Paul Ettedgui

Contemporary painter Paul Ettedgui (b. 1967) lives and works in London, having exhibited at a number of prominent UK galleries and Art Fairs. After a foundation at Camberwell School of Art he then completed a degree in Fine Art at the Kent Institute of Art and Design.

Ettedgui’s works explore dialogues and intersections between different aspects of the urban environment, with an interest in the constant change of these landscapes and how people interact within them. In this exclusive interview, the artist gives us a unique insight in to the significance underlying his artistic oeuvre.

 

Paul Ettedgui in the Studio. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui in the Studio. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui, Docklands Scene. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui, Docklands Scene. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art

Your paintings deal with various scenes of London urban life, often focusing on public transportation and industrial sites. How did you initially become drawn to these seemingly mundane landscapes?

“I often find utilitarian views have a scale which makes them stand out in the environment and sometimes these transitional spaces say more to me than the picturesque. They often contain colours and shapes that contribute to this effect. Also, although the built environment can sometimes seem harsh, it reflects the human urge to build, change and connect.”

 

London is an ever-changing city and living here it can sometimes feel like the ground is continuously shifting under your feet. Do you think your work is a response to this feeling and an attempt to capture an environment that is continuously changing?

“Perhaps my response to this follows on from the last question, in that my work does explore the dynamism of an urban environment such as London, which by its nature and scale is of course ever changing. However, I feel that in using the language of painting, one is also creating a point of stillness that contrasts with this urban dynamic.” 

 

Paul Ettedgui, Steps, Kings Cross. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui, Steps, Kings Cross. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui, Time for Tea 2, ca. 2021. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art
Paul Ettedgui, Time for Tea 2, ca. 2021. Courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art

Some of your pieces deal with commuting and depict people going through their daily journeys in a somewhat dissociative state. Do you see this dissociation as an inevitable feature or consequence of urban life?

“Though the environments depicted in my paintings are often public, crowded and shared spaces, the people can be both negotiating the landscape they travel through whilst remaining in their own worlds. I feel it’s not so much the consequence of urban life but maybe it’s our desire to operate on more than one plane that can create a certain dissonance in respect of our surroundings.” 

London is often described as a very grey city but your paintings make ample use of colour and contrast, often featuring blue skies and rich lighting. Do you feel that your paintings present a realistic view of the city or are they perhaps a more forgiving interpretation?

“The intensity of light that I see around me when I travel through London affects my work. Some of the paintings are slightly more muted, reflecting the cooler seasonal conditions, whereas others show the crisp light of spring and summer. Whatever the light conditions the movement of people through the landscape often bring much vibrancy to it.” 

Many of your paintings show railways cutting through the city, expressing the continuous forward trajectory of urban development. Would you say your paintings present a positive or negative outlook on urban development or are they simply a neutral reflection of this phenomenon?

“The paintings do reflect aspects of a rapidly changing city, which I feel can have both positive and negative implications. However, I’m primarily concerned with evoking a sense of place and my experience of it, so I would say that my work is a more neutral response to this.” 

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