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01 Andy Cropper Welcome2018 Matilda Street Oil On Canvas100cmx100cm2717x2717px HERO

Andy Cropper The Familiar Made Unfamiliar

Working from photos he captures himself on excursions across the city, Cropper builds up his paintings using up to nine layers.

There's a kind of pregnancy in Andy Cropper's work. The Sheffield-based painter, who first featured in Now Then in 2015, recently finished a wildly successful solo show at APG Works and has another one coming up at Cupola Gallery in Hillsborough this month, entitled Uncertain Spaces: Kenopsia.

Working from photos he captures himself on excursions across the city, Andy builds up his paintings using up to nine layers, blending Renaissance techniques with urban subjects to capture an eerie sense of becoming.

It's a great pleasure to once again feature Andy's work.

G2 Andy Cropper Arts Tower2018 Viewed From Within Weston Park Oil On Panel50cmx50cm1938x1938px

'Arts Tower'

Kenopsia is defined as 'the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that's usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet,' and literally means 'seeing emptiness'. Can you tell us where the word came from?

John Koenig started a Tumblr blog, which he's been doing for a few years. He has a huge interest in etymology, so what he's been doing is making up words. This blog, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows... some of these words are just beautiful. 'Kenopsia' sounds like it should've been around forever, but it's birth date is some time in 2012. So that's been around in my head for a bit.

Going into night time work, and making a choice to specifically go into night time, that absence of people, that weirdness... These are places where usually there is life and there is this sort of tension because of the absence of human life. The tensions he's talking about just seem right with what I'm doing.

06 Andy Cropper 20th Century Relic2019 Fargate Oil On Panel25cmx25cm3180x3180px

'20th Century Relic'

You've done a few daytime pieces, but it's interesting that so much of your recent work is nighttime scenes. It almost needs the 'closeness' of the nighttime.

In 2015, I was very much still experimenting. I actively started doing walks. There was one particular walk where there was a huge temperature change, so mist just descended and cloaked everything.

Immediately, nighttime shifts the familiar into an unfamiliar space. What I'm doing seems to be understanding some of the things that help make familiar things odd.

04 Andy Cropper Alley2016 London Road Acrylic And Oil On Panel50cmx50cm3096x3096px


Can you feel when you've caught a particularly good photo to work from?

Every time I come across something that might visually fit within that 'uncertain space' theme, I just try and add it to the mix. The starting point is always when I don't know what I'm looking at, but there's an undefinable something that I want to paint.

I can get incredibly excited. There are times when I try to distract myself from it. And then when I'm starting to paint, I project all kinds of meaning. Sometimes it can be incredibly personal. Sometimes it's metaphorical. Sometimes the meaning will come at the end of the process of painting.

Bus Stop Gothic hi res for Now Then

'Bus Stop Gothic'

What's the timeframe for the pieces that will be featured in the upcoming Cupola exhibition?

I like showing old with new work, so the time period is going to be from 2015 through to now. I'm hoping for half of the work to be new, but there will be some familiar ones in the mix. It's going to be between 30 and 40 pieces.

04version2 Andy Cropper Construction 2019 Bramall Lane Acrylic And Oil On Panel 50cmx50cm 3318x3318px


After this exhibition, what's next for you?

There's a project I want to do at some point, which is rather than me putting forward spaces, other people putting forward spaces which they've had moments or experiences in, and me going along and interacting with them. I'm not sure how soon I'm going to do that, but at some point in the future.

05 Andy Cropper Stalls2019 King Street Acrylic And Oil On Panel50cmx50cm2640x2640px


Why do you consider yourself a realist rather than a photorealist painter?

Skill is a big part of what I'm doing, but I don't want it to be the main focus. I like people being able to see the marks in my paintings. It's why I'm also not shy about showing my process. I like that creation aspect, that a human being is behind this.

17 Andy Cropper No Entry2018 Abbeydale Road South Acrylic And Oil On Panel25cmx25cm3126x3126px

'No Entry'

Learn more

Uncertain Spaces: Kenopsia runs at Cupola Gallery (Middlewood Rd, S6 1TD) from Friday 7 June to Saturday 6 July 2019.

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