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  • Tessa Whitehead


Published: Sep 14, 2013

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This week, Tessa Whitehead, artist and owner of Liquid Courage Gallery in Palmdale, answers 20 Questions from Guardian Arts&Culture.

1. What’s been your most inspirational moment in the last five years?
One of them was standing in front of Fra Angelico’s “Annunciation” in the Prado, Madrid.  Another one was reading “Secret Knowledge” by David Hockney. 

2. What’s your least favorite piece of artwork?
I have an unreasonable hatred for paintings by Titian.

3. What’s your favorite period of art history?
Dutch Genre Scenes, technically Baroque.

4. What are your top 5 movies of all time?
I don’t like movies, but I do like art-films/videos, and I think my top 5 would be, Fischli and Wiess’  “The Way things go”, Christian Marclay’s  “Clocks”, Bill Viola’s  “Walking on the Edge”, Francesca Anfossi’s “Petrified Paper” and Bruce Mclean’s “Soup”.

5. Coffee or tea?
Fennel tea? Ridiculous answer.

6. What book are you reading now?
“And the Mountains Echoed” by Khaled Hosseini for fun and for reference when I am teaching, “The End of Painting” by Douglas Crimp. 

7. What project are you working on now?
Making paintings and cement sculptures in a shared studio with an excellent artist, Paulina Michnowska.

8. What’s the last show that surprised you?
Roy Lichtenstein at Tate Modern was a stellar exhibition. I was completely taken with the color palette. I had wrongly assumed that print would do his work justice.

9. Saxons, One Family, Valley Boys or Roots?
One Family.

10. If you had to be stranded on a Family Island which one would it be?

11. What’s the most memorable artwork you’ve ever seen?
Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller’s “Murder of the Crows”. It’s actually a sound installation, and I think sound takes precedent in my own memories. 

12. Which artist do you have a secret crush on?
Phoebe Unwin. Her paintings aren’t radical; they aren’t overly sexy or vying for attention, they are just brilliant paintings. 

13. If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?
My tutors from the Slade School: Estelle Thompson, Jo Volley, Bruce Mclean, Klaas Hoek and Gary Woodley. All damn good artists, and it would be great to have another really tough crit.

14. Who do you think is the most important Bahamian in the country’s history?
This is a funny question because I feel I can only consider the last 40 years. With that in mind, I think John Cox has contributed (and will still contribute) hugely to our art history.

15. Who is your favorite living artist?
At the moment, Paulina Michnowska.

16. Sunrise or Sunset?

17.  What role does the artist have in society?
To translate ideas, conditions, aspirations into a different kind of language; to entertain or offer a sense of familiarity that you can’t find otherwise.

18. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Anytime I have had to speak publicly, most recently on a radio show. There are (and were) no words.

19. What wouldn’t you do without?
Time in my studio. I take it personally if you keep me out of the studio.

20.  What’s your definition of beauty?
In a person, I think it is grace. In my surroundings, I am in awe of weather, especially huge thunderstorms.


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