Companion Pieces: An interview with Robert Fitzmaurice

Robert Fitzmaurice in his studio
Robert Fitzmaurice in his studio, courtesy of the artist.

In ‘Companion Pieces’, Robert Fitzmaurice’s solo show at no format Gallery, abstracted figures recur in many of the artworks, presented with a varying mix of styles and media.

Bloop sat down with Fitzmaurice to chat about his ideas, inspirations and depictions of companionship in art.

Through the abstracted and somewhat androgynous appearances of the figures in this show, Fitzmaurice says, “I’m not trying to portray an individual or a subset; there’s nobody real that I’m trying to capture here.

‘Flip Meister II’ by Robert Fitzmaurice
‘Flip Meister II’ by Robert Fitzmaurice, courtesy of the artist.
‘Companion Pieces’, no format Gallery.

“They are not stereotypes,” he continues. “They’re my view of particular energies, if you like, within our natures.”

The variety of media in ‘Companion Pieces’ adds an interesting element to the relationships between the works.

Figurative motifs appear and reappear in many of the works which mark clear connections between different pieces. However, due to the variations in media – with drawings, paintings, ceramics and sculptures included in the show – the figures can appear visually very different, adding depth and complexity to their links.

“I want to make the connection across all the different media that I’m using and the Companion Pieces, as a title, is actually an allusion to that,” says Fitzmaurice. “It’s not just about: ‘what does it mean to have a companion in a human sense?’ It’s really about what’s going on in-between the works as well.”

‘The Ship of Theseus’ by Robert Fitzmaurice,
‘The Ship of Theseus’ by Robert Fitzmaurice, courtesy of the artist.
‘Companion Pieces’, no format Gallery.

Fitzmaurice says the theme of companionship has been “bubbling under” previous work in his career; “it just hasn’t really been articulated in the way that I am doing in this show.”

Throughout his work, there are references to literature and art history: some of them are very clear; others are much subtler and require careful consideration.

“I’ve been very interested in working with narrative in quite a symbolic way, but I’ll take themes from literature so quite often it’s companions, but it may be in a rival sense.” He says. “Something will trigger me: the interest from, say, a play like Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. The rivalry between two alpha males in that inspired quite a lot of work in the past.

“But that was a trigger for me just to make figurative art,” Fitzmaurice continues, “and it then is a point of departure.”

‘Head Honcho’ by Robert Fitzmaurice,

‘Head Honcho’ by Robert Fitzmaurice, courtesy of the artist.
‘Companion Pieces’, no format Gallery.

When visitors see the exhibition, he says, “I want them to be thinking about why I’ve combined those materials or why I’m suggesting a relationship between this piece of work and that piece of work.

“I would hope that they retain an open mind to what’s going on there, and don’t judge too early until the works do their work.”

‘Companion Pieces’ is open at no format Gallery until 14th October. Find out more on Robert Fitzmaurice’s website here.

Fitzmaurice recently featured on Lucy Cox’s podcast series, ‘Painters Today’, which can be heard here.