«The surface of the works is very important, I think they exist and survive on a tactile level. They refer to the handmade & the remembrance that this is a painting.»

Jon Pilkington
Copenhagen, Denmark.



Tell us about yourself? How did your work in art begin?

I started to take art seriously around 17 when I was accepted onto a foundation course.
I fucked up my A Levels which were in History, English Literature, Psychology, Sociology and Religious Studies. I realised early on that I was very uninterested in each of these avenues. Unsure that I was capable of anything else due to having a very short attention span left me with little employability value…So I enrolled in a foundation course for Art. Turns out it wasn’t a bad decision.

Last year you supervised a group exhibition in Eighteen Gallery. Tell us about this experience?

Curating the group show ‘Small enough to keep me happy, big enough to keep me occupied’ at Eighteen last summer was a great experience. The process from start to finish was very rewarding.
Being able to invite artists whose work I had admired from afar and never actually seen the works in the flesh brought this sense of surprise. I also invited artists that I knew personally, that I had been working with closely over the past years (we all had studios in Westminster Waste in Peckham) so I was aware of the way in which they worked and I felt their practices were very strong and would thrive in this context alongside the group of artists I was bringing together.
Having moved to Copenhagen last year, I wanted to bring a group of international artists together who had never previously exhibited in Denmark and who were not from Denmark. I wanted this show to be completely new to the Danish art scene. The title also played a part in the show, it referenced my initial sentiment and thoughts upon moving to Copenhagen. The City and the art scene is not too big, but certainly has weight and enough going on to be engaging and exciting.
The show, in essence, felt like an extension of my practice. Doing something that I couldn’t necessarily do in a solo show: bringing together so many varying modes of expression but still with the feeling and overlap within the works that one person could have made the show.

How does your work begin? How important is the inspiration and what role does the mood play in the work?

The works begin very roughly on paper, not being precious at all, they have this definite handmade quality to them. This is just a way to get things down, energy and thoughts etc. I like to evolve these paper works on to the canvas, in a much more contrived way. Not exactly the same but along the same line of inquiry. The works start quite figuratively and over the long laboured process of building a body of work they become more distorted, aggregated, concealed or over-amplified.
The surface of the works is very important, I think they exist and survive on a tactile level. They refer to the handmade & the remembrance that this is a painting.

Tell us about your studio, how much time do you spend there?

My studio is in Sydhavn, South Copenhagen, just beside the harbour. It’s a great space with good natural light  (something that I never had in London) so I think this is playing a part in the works. I can see closer tones creeping in to the work, which without the natural light probably isn’t possible.  I live in the North part of the city so I cycle through the whole city daily, which is always good as I feel like there is enough distance between home and work but it’s still very close.
I usually work everyday, give or take and times vary. In the winter I start later and finish later maybe due to the lack of natural daylight in Denmark. Now that the spring is finally here, days start much earlier and end at the same time. We have a good group of artists in the studios, so always good to hang and grab a beer.

What motivates you most in your work?

Its hard to say, obviously to make good paintings is the end goal, but that’s a slow process. I don’t have much focus or attention for many other things, this is the only thing that I am motivated by.
I would be happy to be in the studio 24/7 if that was possible. I don’t know where the motivation comes from, I just have a real need to get to the studio and make work.

Was there a turning moment in your career that made you chose this profession?

Receiving the AHRC scholarship which allowed me to complete my Masters at Chelsea College of Art was a big turning point. Art education in the UK is becoming more and more expensive therefore more exclusive. The scholarship allowed me to take risks within the work and afforded me more time in the studio,  this may have not been possible if I had to take loans, work full time etc to cover the tuition costs.

What are your plans for this year? Have you already planned some exhibitions

This year I haven’t committed to any shows, I am slowly trying to change the works and live with them for a while. This is something quite strange as I have had quite a few busy years where shows come thick and fast and the only clarity with the works is maybe months after the exhibitions have finished. On one hand, it is great to be working with so many deadlines as that often helps decisions that you may not take if you had more time. Now I am thinking about those decisions much more and hoping that is coming through in the work, it’s a strange feeling at times but I think the works are developing from it.

Your thoughts that you would like to share with the readers

Only listen to Morrissey (musically)

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