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Interview with AJ Burns

Join us on a remarkable journey into the world of AJ Burns, an artist whose creative story is a testament to the enduring power of passion and the boundless potential for artistic rebirth.

With an early love for painting and drawing, AJ’s artistic aspirations were momentarily eclipsed by an education in the sciences and a career in Civil Engineering. For nearly four decades, the canvas remained untouched, but a twist of fate during the Covid era reignited the flames of creativity.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into AJ’s captivating artistic vision, born from a unique and innovative technique that captures the essence of flowing liquids and the tranquility of water’s ever-changing dance. Explore the influences, materials, and intricate details that shape AJ’s art, and accompany us as we uncover the compelling projects that define this artist’s renaissance.

AJ Burns - Turquoise
AJ Burns – Turquoise

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into art!

My artistic journey has been a tale of twists and a resurgence of creative passion. From a young age, I found solace in the world of painting and drawing, but during my high school years, the pursuit of art was actively discouraged. Instead, I ventured into the sciences and embarked on a path that led me to study Civil Engineering at UCT—a world where the free-spirited strokes of art were exchanged for precise lines and definitive answers.

For almost four decades, the canvas remained untouched, until the unforeseen circumstances of the COVID era breathed new life into my artistic aspirations. During this transformative period, I found myself attending an art class, armed with a sizable canvas and a desire to experiment with paint pouring, inspired by what I had seen on social media. Yet, the makeshift studio I found in my garage lacked electricity, rendering tools like hairdryers ineffective for manipulating the paint. I also sought to create more than mere abstract pieces—I desired to give form to my artistic expression. Out of sheer frustration, I began blowing the paint, initially employing a humble straw and ultimately relying on my own breath to gain the control necessary to shape my art. After much trial and error, I unearthed a technique that resonated with my creative soul and found favour with others as well.

Could you describe the art you love creating in more detail?

The art I create through my unique method is a manifestation of the movement, emotion, and texture that has always resided in my mind’s eye. I’ve long been captivated by the graceful flow of liquids, the mesmerizing movement of objects in water, and the way water itself navigates around and over obstacles. Water, with its ever-changing nature, has always held a calming and captivating allure for me. It’s these feelings—the serenity, the dynamism, the constant metamorphosis—that I strive to capture and convey in my art.

What influences your artistic vision and style?

I’ve spent countless hours observing koi fish gracefully swimming in my pond, an experience that offered solace and respite from the demands of my high-stress job. I endeavor to recreate this sense of tranquility in my art, hoping that others may feel the same serenity when my paintings adorn their walls. Additionally, I’m drawn to the intricate details within my work, crafting compositions that transform as light dances across them, creating ever-evolving visual experiences for the viewer.

Are there any present-day artists whose creations resonate with you and that you find particularly compelling?

The world of contemporary art is brimming with inspiration, and I find myself drawn to a multitude of artists. It’s a delight to witness the use of diverse color palettes, ranging from the subtle to the boldly expressive. I revel in experimenting with these palettes, creating abstract pieces that depart from the more realistic blues of water and the oranges and yellows of koi fish.

Among the various materials you engage with, which one do you find the most fulfilling to work with, and what draws you to it?

Thick acrylic paint holds a special place in my artistic toolbox. It offers me the unique ability to blow one color through another without immediate mixing, allowing one hue to pass through another and emerge on the opposite side. This medium enables me to craft soft, gentle movements within the layers of paint, adding depth and complexity to my compositions.

Can you walk us through your artistic process, starting from the initial spark of an idea to the realisation of the finished artwork?

My artistic journey begins with the composition, always influenced by my emotional state at the time. When seeking calm and tranquility, my compositions tend to be minimalistic, reflecting a sense of serenity. Conversely, when I yearn for vibrancy and movement, my compositions take on a more dynamic and energetic form. Next, I select my color palette, a choice that mirrors my mood—bold, subdued, experimental, or conservative.

Could you share some insights into your current creative endeavours and projects?

I’m currently immersed in a series of pieces that blend other mediums with my blown acrylic technique. This fusion allows me to create movement, texture, and the reflection of light off materials beyond water. For instance, I’m exploring the interaction of fabric with my art, as it possesses its own fluidity and can evoke similar sensations to water.

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