Andy Coughlan is a native of Brighton, England and has lived in Southeast Texas for 30 years. An Art Studio tenant for 15 years, he is an exhibiting artist with seven solo exhibitions to his name and numerous group shows. He is also editor of ISSUE, the monthly arts magazine of The Art Studio, Inc., and has won multiple awards for his arts reviews, features, design and photography. He is a playwright, actor, director and writer, and draws the weekly Sunday editorial cartoon for the Beaumont Enterprise. Coughlan is also the advisor to the University Press, the award-winning student newspaper of Lamar University.
For more, visit Andy’s artist page on Facebook.
What is art supposed to be about? Ultimately, that is the question that all artists face, a question for which I am convinced there is no answer. My job then, as an artist, is simply to ask the question over and over in the forlorn hope that the answer will one day make itself apparent. Truth be told, I am not sure that I ever want that day to come. What would I do then?
I am lucky that I am not just a visual artist, but also a writer, actor and director. I see no distinction between any of the artistic forms in which I participate. It is no different for a painter to direct a play, than for him to make a sculpture or an etching.
I have always been fascinated by how we see ourselves in relation to our place in the world. It is another of those large questions. I have found myself, specifically, exploring the idea of the perception women have of themselves, this sense of “not being good enough.” Every woman I have ever met, from my mother to my daughters, seems to think that their bodies are a failure, that they do not fit the “ideal.” I argue that the “ideal” is a myth created by advertising to sell beauty products. If women are so easily susceptible to such manipulation, what else are we victim to? Where do we go to feel as though we fit in? These paintings are abstracted from drawings of the female figure. The lines are layered from multiple drawings. The idea is to capture the essence of femininity — of the human — sensual, fierce, beautiful, strong, intelligent.
I have always been proud that a majority of my sales have been to women. I hope it is because they see there is a place where they fit in, where the “real” ideal is celebrated and embraced.
I consider myself an artist who predominantly deals with linear black and white drawings. Even my color paintings are, at heart, line drawings. There is a beauty in the simplicity of capturing the essence of a thing, of a person, of a place, in three or four lines. My dream of perfection would be to capture the spirit of the entire world in one line with a simple flick of the brush — an impossibility, I am sure, but one never knows.