Jordy Hamilton lives in Vancouver. He received a BFA from the University of British Columbia and Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and an MFA from UBC.
Why did you choose painting as your medium?
Painting isn’t really my chosen medium. I make paintings, but painting figures into my practice as just one part of it. The last three exhibitions I’ve been in included some painting, but they were more installation based. They involved sculpture and photography and appropriated video.
What guides your work or unifies it?
The basic thing that guides it is this desire to understand positions and desires, like artistic desires or political desires.
Does theory inform your practice?
As a painter, I think it’s impossible to avoid theory now. Every painting is a kind of theoretical proposition. As an artist, you inhabit positions that have theory, and so it seems essential to deal with it.
Tell us about the work that’s been selected for the RBC Canadian Painting Competition.
There’s mono printing and some staining, and different types of processes of chance that happen on top of each other. It hopefully produces something surprising, but also something compelling. It maybe speaks to the history of painting or the history of image-making more broadly.
How do you respond to art that has been reproduced, either on a website or in a magazine?
It’s really difficult to see a painting in print, let alone on a computer screen. You can get a general idea of what’s going on, but so many of them don’t reproduce well. With an installation, it’s vital for the person to be inside of it. I have a website where I show my work, but I’m uncomfortable with it.
What do you think this year’s short list says about where painting is in Canada right now?
It says that painters are still painting and that painting is still something that people feel passionate about making and looking at. It also says that painters are still struggling to find ways to deal with questions outside of painting.
Tell us about your studio.
For the last year and a half or so, it’s been the garage in my backyard. It’s been terrific. I’ve had shared studios and I’ve enjoyed it, but right now I really like having this private space where I can get up, have a coffee in the morning, begin to tinker and have friends come by to talk and look at things.
How did you end up in Vancouver?
Like so many kids, I came out west to go snowboarding in the mountains. After being out here for a year, I realized that there was no possible way I could go to school back in Ontario.
What’s the art scene like there?
The art community here likes asking difficult questions; it prides itself on asking difficult questions. The seed was planted sixty or seventy years ago, and there’s been really vigorous debate here since about what art is, what it should be, and what it should attempt to do. The challenge that produces has been productive. Vancouver has provided me with a lot of nourishment.
This interview has been condensed and edited for publication. See all fifteen finalists at TheWalrus.ca/cpc.