Recently moving to Geelong, Dean de Landre held his first co-exhibition in Geelong at Courthouse Youth Arts alongside Miranda Jarvis. An interesting combination of works, we had a chat to Dean to delve a little deeper into his style.

Thanks for chatting with us, and congrats on the launch, how did it go?

Anytime, thank you and thanks for coming! It went well, it was nice because most people there had no idea who I was or knew my work. It was a good opportunity to see how people responded to my paintings having not been familiar with my practice. Also, Miranda’s lovely mum gave me a fern which was great!

You’re relatively new to Geelong as well, how have you found the arts community in town?

I moved down to the region last year, it’s been a nice change. While I haven’t met heaps of people, everyone that I have has been great. I think there’s some cool opportunities in Geelong and it seems to be a small but tight group of people who work hard and get stuff done. I’ve been hanging out with another artist from the area Joshua Maxwell de Hoog so he’s been introducing me to people and the area which I’m really thankful for.

For this exhibition it was paired with the works of Miranda Jarvis, who you hadn’t met before, how did you find the process of pairing your pieces together?

The hang was really spontaneous, we hadn’t met before or seen each other’s work in person. Once we had all the work in the gallery we made the decision to hang them all next to each other rather than separated. It made the gallery feel like a joint show rather than two solo shows which I think was a better outcome.

Did you learn anything from each other in that process?

I can’t speak for Miranda but I think I have a newly found interest for showing work alongside another artist. I think it gives you the opportunity to develop a dialogue between artworks that you don’t get in a solo show and harder to achieve in a group show with lots of artists. It was great being able to see how my paintings looked in relation to somebody else’s and how that changed their mood.

Your work references pop culture items, how do you find the right ones to work with and what makes them good to work with?

It’s just a searching process for me and I’ll pick what I think suits the style of the painting or is an image I’m just particularly drawn to. I often take from video games, but I like food packaging and old advertisements, books – I’m open to where I’ll find images. I will say, however, that I try to avoid overly familiar references. For instance I probably wouldn’t use Mario or Pikachu.

I think it’s largely personal preference. Since I was a kid I’ve always traced images that I like whether that was a painting, a cartoon, whatever, so, I have this kind of unconscious urge just to recreate what I already like. Then for me the challenge is how to use them in a way that is both interesting and somewhat cohesive in the broader scope of what I make.

Part of the joy of working with pop culture references is the nostalgia of it all, do you get many people respond to your works in this way?

Of course, I think pop cultural images are pretty loaded when it comes to emotional attachments people associate with them. A lot of people look fondly on what they enjoyed as a child and a lot of the images I use are childhood images – so I think that can be what initially interests people in certain works of mine. It’s also nice being reminded of something you enjoyed but forgot about.

Is that part of what drew you personally to working with this type of content?

I’m sure it’s a factor whether it’s conscious or not, I tend to pick subjects based on how they work stylistically but the fact I grew up with lots of them is no coincidence haha.

How long did this specific exhibition take to put together?

In total I’ve probably been working on these paintings for about four months, but I’ve been working on them alongside other stuff for unrelated projects.

Do you remember your first experience with art?

I don’t know if I can recall my first experience with art but some of the earliest ones I can remember were when I was little and getting my dad to trace Pokemon I liked so I could colour them in.

How did you come to your current style your work in? And how long have you been creating this kind of art?

It’s just been slowly evolving over time. I like lots of different styles of painting, so I’ve just been gradually understanding what works together and what doesn’t and going from there. I initially got interested in the collage approach that I’ve been taking after being shown the work of David Salle a few years ago. I’ve been painting in the style that I do know since about mid-2016 so just under two years now.

What’s been the biggest lesson for you through your artistic journey?

Something one of my lecturers told me, simply “enjoy the process”. Often I can get bogged down worrying about productivity or outcomes. Focusing instead on just trying to enjoy what I’m doing helps me manage what I’m working on and I think inevitably leads to better outcomes anyway.

Lastly, how did you hear about Courthouse Youth Arts?

Pretty organically. When we moved down here I knew Josh De Hoog’s girlfriend Isabella and she invited us to one of his openings. That was the first time I’d heard of the gallery or been to the space.

Thanks again for chatting with us! Is there anything you’d like to add or mention?

Anytime, thanks for having me and to Amber at Courthourse and Josh De Hoog for getting me the show. Thanks to anyone who checked out the show and particularly to my friends Amber and Dylan for making it out on opening night.

Dean and Miranda’s co-exhibition is on display until Friday, April 27 at Courthouse Youth Arts. Check out more of Dean’s work on Instagram.

Images by Leikography.