London from an Artist’s Perspective: an Interview with Jean Paul Kelly

by Elena Scarpa
September 28, 2016
Elena Scarpa
Kelly Jean Paul

Before Frieze Week I had the chance to interview Jean-Paul Kelly, a Canadian born artist who finished his residency at the Delfina Foundation in Winter 2015.

Elena Scarpa: Let’s start with “That ends that matter”, the installation currently on show at the Delfina Foundation which is re-enactment of actual events which you witnessed in court; could you tell us how you got the inspiration for this project?

Jean-Paul Kelly: I was making another video, The Innocents (2014), and, as part of my gathering of images, I became fascinated with courtroom illustrations of Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson. The drawings – the ones published in The Guardian or The Telegraph or online – were really poor representations of both, but especially Brooks; the only arbitrator of her identity was the presence of frenzied, red curls of hair, elsewise, the depictions looked nothing like her. But, it’s not as if these court illustrators are untalented; they are obviously draw very well, so I began to look more deeply into the practice. In the UK, because of a law of contempt from the Criminal Justice Act of 1925, no representations can be made in court or in the courthouse, including illustration. All drawings must be done out of the courtroom and from a combination of notes and memory, and importantly this includes the subjective biases (that we all have) of the the illustrator. That ends that matter grew out of this restriction of the image-making process and the ideas of fairness that revolve around the responsibilities of making an image of others.

E.S.: Could you tell us a bit more about your practice in general, from where do you get your inspiration?

JP.K: My practice is largely based in asking questions about documentary practice through the use of abstraction. I’m inspired by being unable to make sense of documents, like photographs or videos or sounds, and that not being able to fully comprehend them, being confused by them, their headiness, produces a new possibilities and forces me to research and reflect on my understanding of and position in of the world. I think we all enjoy this to some extent, it’s one of things that keeps us invested in going to galleries and cinemas; I just find this, sometimes utterly frustrating, bewilderment to be an incredibly furtive headspace.

ES: What were the highlights of the residency at the Delfina Foundation in 2015?

JP.K: It was all so lovely. From the artist residents to the incredible Directors and staff, the fostering of artistic process in all its variances is built into that gorgeous complex in Victoria and stems directly out of Delfina Entrecanales. Beyond the comradery of the International and London-based artists, the critical discussions, the delicious and renown lunches, and the generosity of Londoners, Delfina’s energy and determination are contagious. She can deliver a swear-word with admirable precision.

ES: You got to spend some time in London, could you tell us five places in town you would suggest to someone who loves art?

JP.K: For me, the best way to start to understand a bit of London and Londoner is through Hogarth, so The Soane Hogarths are imperative to see at Sir John Soane’s Museum. The Artists’ Film Club screenings at ICA or any of their collaborations with LUX. Chisenhale Gallery; I’m really looking forward to Peter Wächtler’s exhibition and Alex Baczynski-Jenkins early next year. I love the elastic curatorial mandate of Cubitt. And I’m really eager to see the new Cabinet space.

‘That ends that matter: an installation by Jean-Paul Kelly’ is open until 12th of  November 2016 at Delfina Foundation.

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