In the lead up to his much awaited exhibition Everything Louder Than Everything Else artist Andrew Foster sat down with his friend and artistic mentor My Dog Sighs to talk about the show, it’s creation and the future of Andrew Foster the contemporary artist.

My Dog Sighs
It’s been a few years since you worked with me at the Dog House studio where you arrived as a musician and designer. What drove you to put down the guitar and pick up a brush?
You! That backfired didn't it....or you made me say that because you knew it. I was good at art at school but i used to draw a lot of odd macabre stuff as i was obsessed with the supernatural. Music was everything to me since 16 years old and i pursued it with unshakable energy so i didn't really think about myself as an artist. When I landed at your studio I was completely broken. You inspired me to direct that energy somewhere else from something that was well trod, to something new and exciting. It was a transition that was like holding a torch in a tunnel. I loved the fact something could surprise me any moment.

Your early works with your little blue character were very different from the works you’re due to release on the world at The Corner Collective. Tell us about the transition from such a naive style to what you’re planning to exhibit.
I loved E. H. Shepherd's Pooh sketches and Raymond Briggs work with Fungus the Bogeyman and The Snowman as a kid. Little Blue hasn't gone hes just sleeping. I hadn't realised he'd made any mark in Southsea until recently when a few people have mentioned him. Little Blue helped me navigate the art world unknown and free. It was gloriously incoherent. I like my artists to be messy and experimental and little blue was such a naive and almost violent reaction to my own mental health journey that it needed to be tamed. My precarious solo trip to New York's MOMA Gallery blew my mind. From there i started being more abstract and experimenting with shapes and texture. My work is still scatty but its controlled chaos and can be seen many ways.

The Corner Collective is an interesting choice for a gallery to show with. While it’s roots are firmly in the street art scene, yours seem less obviously linked. Can you tell us why you chose to work with them and how your work fits in with the gallery’s ethos.
I see myself as a Contemporary artist so I’m guess that falls inline with white walled gallery's more but I still have that bite, fire and energy of a street artist. I love its scuzz and decay so even tho I don't paint walls, i think I share the spirit of artists that do.

Tell us about your creative process. You start by staring at a clean blank canvas. Where does it go from there?
When I’m doing abstract work its all feeling. Its very much Free form jazz in Ronnie Scott’s at 3am. Sometimes there can be 3 or 4 paintings underneath a finished piece. Its about capturing a vibe and when i feel at rest. I think the difference with these pieces is I’ve gone back in and tightened the screws to try and refine the process. I wanted this show to be about the crazy post news world that westerners find themselves in. That needed the edges ironed out a little.

Having spent a lot of time with you, and having many a long chat with you in the studio, I know the use of ‘art as therapy’ has been a strong thread in your art work. Does this new body of work follow that philosophy/approach and if so how?
Very much so. Among the chaos in my work the side right hand panel is always one colour. This represents the 'calm' or the 'processing' of the information. This harks back to my therapy sessions where you communicate....then go away and process. Self reflection and trying to understand why you feel the way you do is so important to the process of this work

Abstraction and expressionism are the terms I’d associate with this exciting new body of work. It has a bold confidence which I love. But I’m also aware it makes ‘reading it’ more challenging to an audience, that maybe aren’t familiar with you as an artist. Why choose such a challenging vehicle to express your ideas?
When you stand in front of a piece by Miro you feel something deeply but you cant quite work out what it is. That is a chord change that turns your stomach into butterflies or sunlight through trees. Its hitting something primal but not entirely obvious. What a special thing to experiment with, don’t you agree?

It would be remiss of me not to ask you about colour as your new paintings have an almost ‘slap across the face’ use of it. Tell us more about colour, its relevance to the work and its importance to you as an artist.
I think there’s a 90's thang going on there! I loved the vibrancy of early hip hop and rave culture artwork. Everything in the 90s was IN YOUR FACE and made you feel something instead of being kinda beige and fence sitting. It represents an information age where everything is loud and competing for your attention. I’ve always played with neon’s and florescent colors as i think it harks back to that hope as an early teen in things being so exciting. I want these pieces to be exciting.

Art and music. As a musician, is there a correlation between the two?
Very much so. All the same barriers are there, all the same peer tension is there, and all the same pretentiousness is there! Art and business is such a complicated messy web of nonsense that im under no illusion at all that I will face all the same issues with my art as i did music. Its all part of the process and hopefully Im a little more equipped to deal with my emotions. Because my background isn't an art degree or studying the past masters i see myself as an outsider. I like that challenge of shooting from the hip. Nothing is really groundbreaking, its the vibe you create and the feelings you evoke.

Is there a soundtrack to the artwork? (Either physically in the gallery as we view the work or in your head as the works are created)
My music was deeply personal and I have an indie background so the temptation is to link Neil Young’s 70s period to everything i do! But I see my work as much more forward thinking synth based affair. I work to jazz, electro and synthpop/dream pop. Again, its a vibe thing rather than a story being told per say.

There’s no hiding in a solo exhibition. How do you feel as you prepare to bare your soul to a bunch of strangers?
Baring my soul to a bunch of strangers is something i did for years up on a stage. Sure it can be draining but i love communication. So that side of things is fine. I will find a battle with my own ego with my peers i feel. My lack of art background sometimes makes me feel inferior even before I’ve picked up the brush. Some that has been directed at me.....some that I’ve completely dreamt up in my head! But I’m confident in my work and the message i wanted to convey. I hope that other people like it too or it stirs something in you. I want people to like it of course. I’m not making art to be left in a drawer.

Andrew Fosters solo exhibition 'Everything Louder Than Everything Else' opens at THE CORNER COLLECTIVE Gallery IN SOUTHSEA on Thursday 13th feb 7-9pm. Then available to view 17,18,19th and 24,25,26th February
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