I first discovered Josh Lord’s work while scrolling through Instagram and was immediately struck by his dynamic, pop surrealist style.
Being a collage artist myself, I initially thought Josh’s paintings were assemblages created with torn paper and found materials, combined with paint. When I visited his studio however, Josh shared his process with me, and much to my amazement everything I had seen in his work was entirely hand painted.
I was completely astounded at his ability to create such intricately layered and photorealistic imagery, recreating wood, torn paper, photocopied and photographic textures with incredible detail.
Josh’s paintings go so much further than realist interpretation. They are bold, vibrant and surreal; a unique mix of darkness and radiance with visual echoes of the goth and punk scenes.
His work is immediately engaging, powerful and intense, alive with colour, movement and potent messages both literal and inferred. I met with Josh to find out more about his unique style and what drives him as an artist.
What first sparked your interest in art, and what is it that keeps you exploring the medium today?
I think what first sparked my interest was the creativity of it.
Who or what would you say inspires and drives your art the most?
Who? Well there are artist who did inspire but I think these days it’s more about what avenues I haven’t explored and where I can take a painting.
Your painting style is incredibly unique and can play tricks with the viewer’s perception. Have you always painted in this very distinctive way?
No, when I first started, I was working with oils and was trying to paint photorealism, but it just wasn’t me, the style I have is something I’ve developed over the years.
Considering the nature of your aesthetic, what is it that draws you to paint as a medium, as opposed to collage or mixed media?
I think it is what is easiest to express the meaning and over the years I’ve explored different mediums but found the house paint seems to work for me to getting a message across.
Text is a very strong element in your work. Where do you find the words you use, and what is it you like about the combination of imagery and writing?
I’m really not sure where the words come from as I don’t go out of my way to put words or slogans in my work, but say that I might be thinking of something like an image which to paint won’t translate well, so why not write it down?
Are there particular artists who have inspired, taught or made an impact on you along the way?
Yeah artists I know now, I find what they are doing remarkable as they are finding new ways to describe the world we live in, like your work Rachel Derum, to me it has this escapism which I think a lot of us need, and also the work of Peter Tankey who paints these used consumer goods. I find this kind of work inspiring as it’s not following the norm of what is expected from art today.
Your use of colour is very bold, yet clearly highly considered. Can you talk a bit about the role of colour in your paintings? What is it that attracts you to certain hues?
Pretty easy really, I just want hints of colour in my work, so I’ve got to make them noticeable and vibrant, I did some painting that were black sometime ago and just found it boring, for me that is.
What are some of the most memorable works or installations you have created?
I would have to say a painting I did in the 90’s called “Endless liberation” that was 6 metres long. It was the first really big painting I did, I didn’t know if it would be sold at all, so I experimented with it with the thought “oh well I’m just doing it for myself”. It went on show in 1999 and was the first painting in that solo show to be bought. It now hangs in a private home in Hong Kong.
Do you have a fairly set process for approaching a painting? How much is planned and how much is improvised as you work?
I would start with a set idea but then I improvise and then freak out when it’s in that moment of “where do I take this?” and then I start questioning why I started in the arts in the first place! Yes, it gets very personal. HA!
How much of your own personal history or experiences would you say weaves its way into your work?
I don’t think there is on a conscious level, but on a subconscious I think there would be a lot of own history and experiences, but hey the ideas have to come from somewhere.
You work in a variety of scale, both on large murals and installations and on smaller canvases. Do you prefer working large or does it depend on each piece?
I guess it would have to do with what I am painting.
You have often combined exhibitions with live music. What role would you say music plays as an influence on your life and work?
I grew up in a very artistic and musical family, my Mum and Dad would often be on stage when I was young and at times I would be up there with my brother and sisters. I think as one of my friends once said, “Josh this only shows that you’re a repressed musician” HAHA
What is the best advice you have received, or could give, about living acreative life?
Be the best at one thing, you can always expand once you’ve made a name for yourself but if you try and do too much at the beginning, you’ll either get frustrated or you’ll burn out. That’s why I chose visual art over music.
What’s next for you? Are there any exciting projects coming up you’d like to tell us about?
I’m booked into a show in October and I’m starting to work on some murals. Also, I’m working on an album cover from the UK band Frankie Teardrop Dead and I finished a cover for Melbourne based band The Vendettas.