Born in Croydon in 1953, Horace Panter graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic (now Coventry University) with a BA in Fine Art in 1972. Whilst there, he met Jerry Dammers and, together with Lynval Golding, he founded ‘The Specials’. Although better known as a musician, Horace has always kept up with his art practice, gradually moving away from the ethos of ‘art language’ to return to painting, influenced by the artists he had first encountered as a child of the 60s: Warhol, Lichenstein, Rauschenburg, Hopper, Blake, Rousseau.
Pop Culture informs both his audio and his visual aesthetic, hence his giant ‘cassette’ paintings. The emphasis is on the cassette itself as an icon in terms of its place in musical and cultural history. Each one represents a band/song, which has stood the test of time and become a classic in the pop genre, and the recording studio in which it was produced.
We are so pleased to welcome Horace Panter to artrepublic, check out our Q&A below to learn more about the artist, his practice, and his work.
AR: What was the inspiration behind your current body of work?
At the moment I’m revisiting the cassette as I haven’t painted any for a couple of years. I’ve found a load of brightly coloured ones and thinking about what bands to include in the mix.
AR: Do you see this work as a continuation of previous work or a series, or a new departure in your practice?
For the past few years I’ve concentrated on my AMERICANA series but, because of lockdown, I’ve run out of images! My intention was to take a road trip to the USA this year with my camera to collect some new images. I’ve been relying on photographers in the States to send me some snaps of diners, beach huts etc. Very grateful to them but, for the time being, I’m returning to the CASSETTE series. So, it’s a continuation in a circular way.
AR: What does a typical day look like for you?
I start the day walking the dog. We have a set walk down by the river and it never fails, whatever the weather, to leave me (and the dog hopefully) feeling invigorated. After that I usually get down to painting and spend most of my time in the studio. Also do runs to my printers and framers. I usually head back down to the river and stay in my favourite field to watch the sun going down. Of course, I pick up the bass at frequent intervals. Sometimes I listen to music but, more often than not, I like to work in silence.
AR: Which artists inspire you, or you admire?
Haruki Murukami, Joseph Cornell, Peter Blake, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Bridget Riley, Edward Hopper, David Hockney… the list goes on and on…
AR: When did you know you wanted to pursue a life in art?
I didn’t. I pursue music equally passionately! I consider myself to be very very lucky to be able to straddle two meaningful careers! I did a foundation course in art in Northampton, followed an art degree in Coventry in the 70s and that’s where I met Jerry Dammers and we formed The Specials. In those days, painting was very frowned upon as art language was all the rage. Most of the people I know from back then reverted to painting as soon as they left the university. Painting for the sake of painting can’t be replaced by theory!
AR: What is your earliest art memory?
My earliest art memory was seeing 'U.S. Highway 1' by Allan D’Arcangelo. Growing up in the 60s I was very into American culture: art,music and literature. Obviously, that aesthetic stayed with me!
AR: What did it feel like when you sold your first artwork?
An acquaintance of mine asked me if he could buy one of my paintings (it was a small 8” square piece of a Japanese Fruit Girl). I was bemused, to say the least. ’Sure’, I said, ‘20p’. He gave me 20p and I gave him the painting. At that stage it hadn’t occurred to me to sell my work; I just painted for the hell of it! However, it was the first time I sold an original painting in a gallery that I felt that mixture of joy and surprise. Every time I sell a painting I get a kick from it. With music, I’m part of a team and we all rely on each other; art is my solo album if you like so it succeeds or fails on its own merit.
AR:What’s your favourite creative work
Art: Ken Noland’s horizontal stripe paintings, 'F1-11' by James Rosenquist.
Music: Decoration by The Drive-By Truckers.
AR: What’s next?
For life to get back to normal! I had the dreaded virus way back in March so assuming I have some level of immunity now… I need the music to balance the art so can’t wait to get out and play again!
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