Melbourne Artist Feature: Fred Fowler

Fred Fowler Hosier lane mural 2013. Photo courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler is a Melbourne based artist with a background in graffiti art who is currently exploring themes of colonialism in Australia through landscape paintings. His work has been showcased across platforms such as The Design Files Open House, a residency in north western Victoria, the National Gallery of Victoria and he’s just about to undertake a residency in Korea.

You can meet Fred Fowler and hear more about his art at our upcoming FOOT IT by the Maribrynong River Art Tour with Wynter Projects on 30 May. For details click here. In the meantime, read more about his artwork, inspiration and creative process below.

Above featured image: Fred Fowler, Hosier lane mural 2013. Photo: courtesy the artist

Can you please provide a brief overview of  your creative practice?
It’s a balance between chaos and order, it involves creating problems and then finding a solution to them. Recently i’ve mostly been working on paintings –  but I like to have options, so sometimes i’ll pick up a bit of clay or experiment with printmaking techniques.

What has been your career pathway leading to this creative practice?
When I was younger I was really into skateboarding, which led to graffiti, once I retired from illegal graffiti I became interested in public art – now i’m just interested in contemporary art in general. In particular the artistic dialogues that are taking place around the world surrounding issues that I think are important.

Fred Fowler, 7 Evil Men, 2012. Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, 7 Evil Men, 2012. Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, Hosier lane mural (detail) 2013. Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, Hosier lane mural (detail) 2013. Photo- courtesy the artist

Describe your creative process.
For the paintings i’ve been doing recently it’s a bit of a scatter gun approach to start with, I come up with a theme or target – create layers of colours, symbols and meaning, then I cut back the work and pick out details that are aesthetically pleasing. Other times it’s very calculated – i’ll have a clear concept and then it’s just a matter of executing a plan.

In the beginning what were the challenges in getting started as an independent artist?
Firstly you have to find your voice, then you have to work out what you want to say. Then coming to grips with the commodification aspect of being a creator, because like it or not – in a westernised free market capitalist society, art is a commodity and you have to navigate that. How much are you worth? What are you willing to sell? Does the commodification of your work take away from the intention behind it?

What are some of the themes/ concepts that run through your work?
Recently i’ve been using landscape painting as a wormhole to explore issues surrounding colonialism and cultural assimilation in Australia. Specifically, looking at things like the relationship between native and invasive species as an analogy for human relationships.

Fred Fowler, Moreton Bay Haus Tambaran, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 76 x 91.5cm (78 x 93.5 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, Moreton Bay Haus Tambaran, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 76 x 91.5cm (78 x 93.5 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, The Pack, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 58 x 70cm (60 x 72 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, The Pack, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 58 x 70cm (60 x 72 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, The Queenslander, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 58 x 70cm (60 x 72 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

Fred Fowler, The Queenslander, Oil paint and spray paint on wood, 58 x 70cm (60 x 72 framed) Photo- courtesy the artist

What lessons have you learned the hard way in terms of your creative practice?
I’ve pretty much learned everything the hard way – one of the most important things i’ve learned is not to try and pander to specific audiences and produce work solely to sell – it has to be created with reason and purpose. If you just find something that’s commercially popular and then churn out variations, the work loses its potency and integrity.

Fred Fowler in his studio, 2014 Photo- Bridget O’Shea

Fred Fowler in his studio, 2014 Photo- Bridget O’Shea

Is there a past project or art work that stands out as a highlight?
Not really, highlights for me are experiences i’ve had or friendships i’ve made through art.

When do you feel most inspired to create?
I have a lot of energy in the mornings, I also get really excited for the next morning when i’m about to rest for the night. It sort of feels like the night before Christmas when you’re a kid, it’s a restless cycle.

What future projects are you excited about?
I’m going to the Clayarch Museum in Gimhae, Korea for a month long ceramic residency in July. I’ve wanted to go to Korea for some time – so the opportunity to go there and create work for a month is really exciting.

Where can we find out more about you online?
http://www.fred-fowler.com/
https://instagram.com/fredfowler/

Fred Fowler will be a part of our FOOT IT Art Tour by the Maribyrnong River along with a host of other wonderful creatives. Join Colour Box Studio and Wynter Projects on Saturday 30 May for what will be an insightful tour and discussion hosted by Chantal Wynter. Limited places available, please book in advance: click here for details.

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