Constructed reality in the art of Edward Coyle

By Beata Kozlowska

 Edward Coyle: BUILD! - Berloni Gallery, 2015 - Photo: P A Black © 2015
Edward Coyle: BUILD! - Berloni Gallery, 2015 - Photo: P A Black © 2015

Combining digital technology and traditional painting may seem quite challenging, but in Edward Coyle’s large, intricate paintings, created through various processes and technics, it becomes a characteristic mark of his artistic ‘methodology’.


His paintings drive the audience into fictional inhabited spaces; The completed canvases demonstrate an oscillation between the temporary and constant, real and abstract. As described, Coyle’s canvases bring a’ topographic proposal for an imagined place that is at once aspirational, and optically at reality's most complex’.


Edward Coyle was born in Oxford in 1985. He studied at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne 2004-08 and at The Princes Drawing School London 2008-10. His work has featured in The John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize, 2010, 'Drift' at Lumen Gallery London 2012, The Other Art Fair, London 2012, 'The Impossible Heap' at Galerie 8, London 2012 and 'BUILD!' at Beloni Gallery London 2015. He is currently a freelance Architectural visualiser.


How would you describe your practice? 


 My practice is very much process based. I don't really have a vision of what the final image will be, it is developed through trial and error. So much of my painting process is a search to resolve, develop or destroy elements. This can be quite a frustrating process, but at the same time the visual clues of this search hold the most interest for me.


What inspires you in choosing the themes of your works? How and when your interest in architecture and new media came about?


  I was figurative painter when I was younger and many of the works I produced back then were life drawings and portraits. I eventually began to remove the figures and concentrate on the architectural space the figure inhabited. The presence of figures in my work can sometimes lead to an unwanted narrative so I tend to use construction sites, abandoned buildings and ruins as inspiration; they provide a snap shot of an environment that is in the process of changing and hint at a past or future occupation.


I discovered data moshing and glitch art a few years back - I think I was intrigued by the look of digital interference on my television screen and decided to do some research into how I could replicate similar glitches. I was immediately struck by the parallels it has with my own painting techniques and the themes of temporal ambiguity in my work. These techniques are now central to my methodology.


In your practice you use quite diverse approaches especially within painting medium and 3D architectural visualisations. How important is technology in creating the imagery in your painting? What are your favourite media to express yourself apart from painting?


 The techniques I employ help me to distance myself slightly from the painting. I use it because it is a completely different way of approaching the image and is so far removed from the actual mark making. Taking photographs of my work and processing the images through the various media help me visualise new opportunities within the paintings. Glitching the images is a more instant but unpredictable way of manipulating the work. I have no initial idea of what the final painting will look like and I rely on this media to help push the work forward. 


What is the main message in your art? How do you relate to the audience in your work?


 I guess the main idea is to create works that force the viewer to question the space that is before them. Does the space exist, is it fictional, does it represent a future design, is it or was it inhabited? I think the uncertainty in the works makes for interesting interaction where the viewer is left to fill in the gaps.


Could you please tell us about the creative process since initial thoughts to completion?


 I use sampled architectural imagery taken from architectural plans and conceptual designs, as well as from memory and imagination and work these sampled structures or planes up onto canvas. The canvases are then photographed and taken through digital processes to alter the image. I might for example then decide to take the photographed image of the painting into 3D software and try to model the geometry and structures that I see. I can then alter the view slightly, add new elements or designs and force a slightly different perspective. The resulting digital image is then painted over the top of the previous layer. This and a number of other processes are repeated numerous times until a kind of balance is found.


What would be your dream collaboration?


 I would like to work with anyone from the New Leipzig School - Matthias Weischer, David Schnell etc. I would also like to look into producing artwork with virtual reality technologies.


Who has influenced you the most? Do you consider also architects who had a significant impact on your art practice?


 I think Matthias Weischer is probably my favourite painter at the moment. He balances figurative and abstract elements with seductive geometric patterns. 




What other artists do you admire? What is your favourite piece of art?


 De Chirico, Neo Rauch, Ed Ruscha, Justin Mortimer, Matthias Weischer, Jason Martin.


 How would you describe the current art scene in London and UK?


The quality of art in London is very high as ever but it still proves very difficult to make a living at the lower end of the art market - due to high price of studio spaces and living costs in general. There are, however, plenty of small galleries willing to give young artists a chance and there are many opportunities to get work on display through the numerous competitions and art fairs available.



More information about the Artist available on

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