Talar Aghbashian in front of her prizewinning painting © Dave Jones Talar Aghbashian is one of this year’s John Moores Painting Prize prizewinners. Selected from more than 2,500 entries, Talar's painting represents a memory of a disproportionate, ill-sculpted arm of a statue of an assassinated politician. We caught up Talar ahead of her free talk, taking place at the Walker Art Gallery on Tuesday 20 September, 1pm. What made you enter the John Moores? I have always looked forward to the John Moores prize exhibitions, viewing it over the years was always a fresh and intriguing experience, leaving me feeling lucky to be a painter working here and now. This year I had the opportunity of having my paintings with me during the call for entries period and so I thought I would apply. How does it feel to be a prizewinning John Moores artist? I'm aware that so many artists with strong works apply to the John Moores painting prize. So, first to be accepted, and to then be a prize winner, is an overwhelming feeling. I feel a great sense of inclusion from the painting community. What inspires you?
Tell us about your studio... It is a place of possibilities, openness and acceptance where I find solitude and focus. At any one time I am working on several paintings, with others being resolved. This means that I have plenty of looking and pondering time, deciding on the next move for each painting. This effectively allows me to move faster, but go slower at the same time - working on a number of works. Why paint?
Often work drives itself, but it is also about looking, seeing and finding - that occupies me pretty much the whole time - and so painting happens. When I can, I travel to places of interest, but otherwise the notions or ideas could pop up anywhere, anytime... walking about or watching something. At times, I also actively seek out images by going through news and documentary footage, or taking film stills. The point where I try to capture that moment is usually in an image form, since I do not make sketches. It needs to be worked out otherwise the idea will fade away, even if I would still have the image.
What do you hope visitors will take away from your work in the John Moores? Do you hope for a certain reaction? I hope my paintings are open and intriguing. A lot of it is about the physical surface of the paint, about what you see in front of you, and I would like to think that the play on the surface of the painting could be charged and the experience of looking into the paintings can be exciting; creating some type of an emotional response.
When I was younger, I had the urge to work my ideas out on paper. I found painting to be the one thing that I could do by myself without relying on anyone else. This mark making and engaging with the world around me is at the same time instinctual, close to our nature, playful and sometimes frustrating. It keeps me sane, and I see it as the most honest and vulnerable thing anyone can be working with.