top of page

'Moves Like Water' An Amazing Art Exhibition by Constance Regardsoe & Lee Putman in London



The development of the camera revolutionized the art world. For the first time, humans could gather true-to-life images, with growing immediacy, of the world around them. Much discussion has centered around what painting lost with the development of the camera, but it is worth considering what the development of photography offered. What would Degas' dancer series have looked like if the artist had access to not only his memory and perception of movement, but photographic documentation capturing exact nuances? How would human perception of water been changed if artists had been able to capture its precise patterns and intricacies? How would artists have contended with the task of depicting subjects that are inherently about movement, on the two dimensional medium of paint and canvas?




The two artists behind 'Moves like water', Lee Putman and Constance Regardsoe are trying to answer these these questions whilst exploring two very different subjects, swimmers and water, and contemporary hip hop dance. For both artists the process begins by using photography as an initial reference, from which they develop a response with paint, in a representational yet figurative style.


It was the Curious Kudu Gallery, London where the eminent artists Constance Regardsoe and Lee Putman jointly exhibited their amazing artworks in April, 2023.



Both artists are interested in how fascinating links can be drawn between seemingly divergent subjects when one takes the time to observe. The juxtaposition of intensely fluid, and sharp and jagged movements featured in hip-hop and popping mirrors the simultaneously tranquil then violent undulations of water. Both painters are grappling with the fascinating challenge of depicting something intrinsically about movement within the confines of a stationary medium, whilst celebrating motion and the body.



Retro Kolkata : First of all, Congratulations on your ongoing Art Exhibition named ‘Moves Like Water’ at Curious Kudu, London with the eminent artist Lee Putman. How did this show come to reality?

Constance : Thanks so much. I had a colleague who had exhibited at Curious Kudu a year previously. I visited the opening night of her show, and she recommended me to the gallery. I presented my works to Kudu, and the owner Chris was impressed and offered me a slot. Kudu offers the space to artists for a whole month, but asks artists to show in pairs, which I actually think is a very wise decision on their part.


I'd met Lee six months ago at an art fair, and even though we barely knew each other, I was really impressed by his work and his approach to it, so I thought of him. I was also trying to think of an artist whose work I could make a unique and interesting link with. Though we explore very different subjects (swimmers and water, and street dance) there are some important similarities - we both start with photography as a reference, and use it as a tool to capture and understand a subject that's very closely connected to movement, and then we both try to express the subject within the confines of a two-dimensional medium. Both our works would look very different if you couldn't use photography as a tool. I think we were both interested in the idea of putting two seemingly divergent subjects into the same space, and seeing how they complimented each other, and what responses they prompted.


Retro Kolkata : Under what circumstances and on what occasion did you first meet Lee Putman?

Constance : We were both selected to exhibit at the 2022 Other Art Fair in London, and it was both our first time doing an art fair. On the first day I was heading down the aisle to get to my stall on the set-up day, and saw Lee's painting 'Ad locutio'. It was the first piece that caught my eye at the fair, and probably my favourite from the whole weekend, so even though I was rushing, I stopped and told Lee how much I loved it. Art fairs are pretty intense (you meet a lot of people over a four-day window) but we chatted a little bit because we tended to arrive early each day so we could make sure we had everything set up just right, (and for me at least, so I could be relaxed and in the right headspace to discuss my work with hundreds of strangers). So, I'd say I was really impressed with Lee's skill as a painter, the fact that he took his work seriously, and the way he conducted himself when speaking to people.



Retro Kolkata : Can you tell us a bit about the paintings exhibited at ‘Moves Like Water’?

Constance : There are 14 artworks all together. My work focuses on water and people interacting with water, and Lee's work in this series is about street dance. Even though we explore very different subjects, one consistent theme is movement, and the challenge of conveying subjects that are inherently about movement, using the two-dimensional mediums of paint and canvas. We both begin with photography as a reference, then develop a painted response, in a representational yet figurative style.


In the work that I've put into this show, for me, there are two dominant themes running through it (the viewer is always free to interpret as they choose). One is about time and impermanence, and it's an idea I've fixated on for a few years now. My paintings always capture a single fleeting moment; the interplay of light, water and movement is unique to a single moment of capture - you will never get those configurations to occur again in the same way. I think there is something soothing and vital in reminding ourselves of that - there's the idea that you need to savour things as they occur, but I also think that reminding ourselves that everything is fleeting, can be a comfort when things are harder.



The other dominant theme is duality. Water has lots of dualities, it can be calming and life-giving, but also powerful and dangerous. This is something I've considered a lot previously, but recently I've been thinking more about the duality of water within a single moment. In the show, I have two pieces that feature water without bodies, and in these pieces, the undulations of the water have two faces - in one the light source and the sky is reflected back, and in the other the panel of water is transparent, showing the colours and textures that lie on the ground below. I love how this relates to people; most of us have a face that we use to present to the outside world, or in certain situations, but there are other things at play beneath the surface. I really like how, in these paintings, both of these elements, both faces, are honest, exist in harmony together, and could not function separately.


I'm not going to speak about Lee's works for him, but I'd say to drop him a message or get in touch, I'm sure he's be happy to tell you more about them.



Retro Kolkata : Lee Putman’s art is about mixing these two worlds of visual art and movement to tell stories. Could you tell us a little about what brought him to such realist and expressionist styles of artwork?

Constance : Lee and I both started painting seriously about five years ago. In that time, I have managed to structure my life in a way that I've been able to give a lot, sometimes a vast majority, of my time to art. Lee has had a lot more demands on his time and so firstly I'd say that his work is a testament to being very naturally talented. A big part of Lee's practice is in observational drawing, something which seems like second nature. In my experience, artists who are at ease with observational drawing tend to be pulled to at least a degree of realism in their work.



As for it being expressive, I'd imagine that Lee's dance background has a big part in that. I know that when he is actually making the work he generally stands up, plays music and will often be dancing in his studio. I know from when I've been in something close to that headspace, it will really affect your output, and you will adopt looser, more expressive marks. (I'd really recommend all artists try standing at least sometimes in their practice).


The danger with things being more expressive, is that you can lose some of the control or structure that (I believe at least) successful paintings require a degree of. Lee's works 'work', because he takes a good amount of time to mentally plan and envision how the pieces will look, consider the kinds of marks and the materials he wants to use well in advance, and will pace himself to ensure that he sustains a good rhythm in his practice, which means the work looks consistent because it has consistent energy behind them. The elements in his work, even the ones that seem incredibly expressive, are considered. From what I've seen of how Lee dances, it's much the same.



I took a friend who is a very accomplished painter to the show, and he was looking at Lee's painting 'Ad Locutio'. The friend was fixating on the pink spray paint mark in the bottom corner and said 'how did he (Lee) know to put that there? It's exactly what the piece needs, but how did he know that would work?'. It brought a little smile to face at the time.


Retro Kolkata : How does Lee Putman’s Street dance background influence his artworks?

Constance : Lee is a very talented dancer who was involved in the scene professionally for over a decade before pursuing art. Lee uses painting as a way to celebrate and draw focus to the practice of street dance, and to question why it occupies a different space to classical formats of dance like ballet. I know from our discussions that Lee is really passionate about street dance, and the culture around it, and I believe that good art comes from an very honest appreciation or fascination or love, even, of something outside of yourself. That definitely feeds back into Lee's work and was probably one of the things that pulled me to it in the first place, before asking him to get involved in this show.



Artists will always been influenced by the things they have learnt, and this can come out in the aesthetic of their work. You can normally see when an artist has been atelier trained, for example. I know Lee has an appreciation for the aesthetics around street dance, and some of that influences his choice of marks, materials and colour. From what I have been trying to learn about street dance, it has a big element of freestyle to it, and I'd say there’s a vein of performance and improvisation that has come through into Lee's painting.


Retro Kolkata : You seem to be interested in reflections on water, water splashes, bubbles–is this a technical curiosity or something else? What is the relationship between your figures and the water?

Constance : It's definitely partly a technical curiosity. People find water hard to paint, and I like the challenge of it, and probably I also enjoy painting something that is recognised as challenging. I have an interest in turbulence and movement, hence the bubbles and splashes as you say.



I honestly do love however, that my art can mean, or at least spark, different things for different viewers. In just the past week I've spoken with two highly intelligent people whose opinions I value. One told me that they think my work is largely about sensuality, the other wanted to know if I considered linking my work with ideas of guilt and forgiveness from a religious stand point. So pretty diverse takes. I know that I want to spend a long-time painting water, very possibly the rest of my life. The fact that my work can promote such a variety of different views, is, I suspect, one of the things that will sustain me throughout what I hope will be a long career.


Retro Kolkata : Are there any other new elements in your visual arts practice you would like to share, anything new you are exploring in the upcoming period?

Constance : I was told once that you can't be creating and analysing at the same time, and it's something I've learned to be true. One of the impacts of putting on this show, is that I've had a short break from creating, and spent more time exploring themes within my work, and articulating them, and I think this has led to some increased understanding on my part. Sometimes, I think I won't fully understand what the work is about until after I've made it, I just know that I felt pulled to the source image. Earlier in the year I was able to go on two trips (one of which was my first trip to India), and gather some amazing images for future works. Perhaps I won't find out what they all mean for several months, or even longer, but I'm really excited to start some of these new pieces and see what I discover.



Retro Kolkata : Both of you are going to collaborate on any series in the future? If yes, what series you will be working on?

Constance : We probably need a break! Putting on a show is really demanding in terms of time, for a while it honestly was the first thing I'd think about in the morning and the last thing I'd think about before going to sleep, and also because artists, I think, have a tendency to have quite heavy conversations about their work and themes behind. We both need to return to our 'normal lives' for a while; I have some commissions I will need to focus on for the next few months, and my partner of six years will soon be coming home after a few months of working out of the country. Lee teaches an art foundation course that's demanding, and also has a partner and a son who has just turned three.



We don't have any formal plans to collaborate again after the show, but it's been a great experience partnering up with another artist and sharing ideas, for me at least it's helped to illuminate parts of my process, and make me consider elements in my work. I have some future work planned that will feature multiple faces, and seeing some of Lee's pieces helped distil some of my thoughts. It's also just interesting working with another artist, seeing how they order and prioritise their life, and seeing what you can learn from someone else's process.


I would just like to say that I am really grateful to Curious Kudu for letting us have the space for the month, and giving us a lot of free reigns to plan and deliver the show, but, for me at least, I'm also grateful for the stipulation that the show happened jointly with another artist. Lee and I both spoke a little about how we can get wrapped up in our own process. I think it was actually really beneficial forcing yourself to step back a little, and consider not just your own work, but how it would fit with someone else's, work jointly in a space, and be part of an equal experience for your audience.

____________________________________________

Follow Constance Regardsoe at Instagram

Aura  International Painting & Photography Exhibition & Award Ceremony.jpg

AURA
2024

SEASON II

INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY & ART EXHIBITION

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming 'AURA 2024 - The International Photography & Art Exhibition and Grand Felicitation Ceremony', following the resounding success of last year's event. This prestigious gathering will be held at Kolkata's renowned 'Nazrul Tirtha' Art Gallery (Action Area I, Newtown, Kolkata 700156) from January 13 to January 21, 2024. The event promises an international stage for artists and photographers handpicked globally to display their masterpieces alongside the mesmerizing works of esteemed artists from over 25 participating countries, all under the spotlight of national media.

Red White Minimalist Lifestyle Magazine Cover (8.268 × 11.693in) (7.423 × 10.5in) (7.8 × 1

RETRO
KOLKATA

MAGAZINE

THE GLOBAL EDITION

Step into the boundless world of art with Retro Kolkata Magazine - The Global Edition. Beyond a magazine, it's a collectible tome celebrating the global tapestry of creativity. Delve into seven chapters unveiling the wonders of artistry across different mediums, uniting readers in a rich conversation that transcends borders. Embrace this cherished keepsake, a luminous narrative of human expression and interconnected art forms.

Get Featured on

Retro Kolkata

Now it's your chance to get featured on RETROKOLKATA.NET

cover (1).jpg

RETRO KOLKATA MAGAZINE

OUT NOW

DOWNLOAD IN PDF FORMAT

qr.png
bottom of page