Axis Speaks profile- Jack Trolove

Creativity has always been the advertising industry’s super-power. Creative thinking changes perceptions, it turns the ordinary into the extraordinary, reflects and informs culture, and creates value where there was none. The 2024 AXIS Awards is an opportunity to celebrate not just the very best ideas advertising has to offer, but also seeks out the work that moves the industry forward.

The awards are to be held on April 11 at Shed10 in Auckland, and prior to the gala evening, Axis Speaks (between 9am and 11am on that day) will feature four notable speakers giving their views on creativity and more.

StopPress will feature each speaker prior to the event. Today we feature Jack Trolove.

Jack Trolove is a New Zealand artist with over 20 years of experience who explores embodiment and liminality in his work. He has exhibited internationally, received awards, and pursued a doctorate at Auckland University. Jack’s recent acclaimed exhibition, ‘Tenderise,’ reflects his evolution as a painter. Alongside his art career, he has taught in academic settings, including fine arts and gender studies.

What are your expectations for the AXIS awards and your interaction with the audience?

This whole space is completely new for me – I have no connection to the advertising worlds – so I’m just curious to be in a different space, and to see how another world of visual-thinkers work.

Do you have a specific message you hope to convey to the awards attendees?

I hope I can invite people to fall in love with the creative potential of transitions, thresholds and in-betweenness in the ways I have.

Is there anything you’re particularly interested in learning about the New Zealand advertising and design community?

Advertising is a world I really don’t know about, but I do know it’s full of creatives who have to think fast and on their feet, and who will be super skilled in this way, so, in this sense I’m excited to be around a group of creatives who are agile and dynamic and maybe less precious than we can be in the fine arts world at times. It’s always nice being outside your own communities and comfort zones so I know there will be lots for me to learn, and I look forward to those surprises.

How have your recent exhibitions reflected your evolution as a painter?

Probably they reflect my love for paint and forms loosening. I always want the work to be looser, to be more gestural, more suggestion and less description. I’m always trying to get to the most undiluted energy, but this usually happens through creating work which has that feeling of showing itself forming and unforming simultaneously. Paintings are technically static but everything we want them to do is about movement, it’s such an infinite creative challenge, hence pushing towards and away from abstraction at the same time. When I reflect on recent shows I think I’m getting better at leaving the story of ‘finding’ on the surface of the painting. Being brave enough not to tidy things up (the tidying often kills them).

Exhibition making for me is more a process of following my nose, from one painting into the next, until suddenly you get a sense of the bigger body that’s appearing. It’s very intuitive. Looking back over the last shows there is a logic to it, but really that’s only apparent retrospectively. Sometimes I feel like the whole studio process is just about trying to hold my nerve!

What is your creative approach?

My work as a painter is literally trying to find feeling. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Looking for feeling. Pushing paint around, making marks until sensations start vibrating the surface. It’s like a kind of choreography for finding feeling.

Figurative paintings, on a good day, can create second skins for us to feel through. My sense is that this is the work, or collaborative relational offer of a painting.

I’m often confused as to how I’ve ended up making the kind of paintings I make now, I didn’t see that coming, but I’m not interested in making it ‘make sense’. My best paintings have nothing to do with my head. They’re made from the gut, from a hunch. Using my critical brain when I’m in the studio is like kryptonite. It totally breaks the spell. It’s not that I don’t think in there but it’s my (relational) body that’s thinking.

What are your sources of inspiration, both inside and outside the art world?

Creatively, I’m usually inspired by work outside painting, like contemporary dance, theatre, kapa haka, poetry, and sculpture. I find when I’m with work I don’t know how to make, I can just be super open to it working on me or with me – rather than getting caught in technical conversations with it. Being a painting nerd, I can get caught in the technical when I’m looking at painting. Occasionally though, a painting will just floor me. When that happens I’m broken for weeks, in the most beautiful way. I can feel my whole world re-orienting because of its impact.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received related to your artistic career?

It came from outside of the artworld but has been gold creatively. When I worked in mental health, there was lots of burn out. Someone I knew had been doing that mahi for decades, yet still seemed buoyant. I asked them how they did it and they said, ‘I just go where the energy is’. It’s deceptively simple. I realised that ‘feeling energised’ is a navigation tool creatively. When the energy wanes in my body and the studio, I know the work wants to change.

For more info and to purchase tickets https://events.humanitix.com/axis-2024

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