ELLO X PRIDE: GET TO KNOW ROSS HEAD
Introducing Ross Head: The visual artist exploring queer desire through humor and sensuality
To celebrate Pride this June, we’ve been focusing all our content on work that represents unity, love, and the LGBTQI+ community. As part of this, we’ve been highlighting some of our favorite LGBTQI+ creators making waves across the industry.
Next up is the London-based visual artist Ross Head, whose practice explores the lives of queer people and the way they exist in the world.
Tell us about yourself
Hey everyone - I’m Ross Head, and I’m a visual artist living and working in London. My practice spans multiple mediums, including painting, collage, drawing, installation, and, most recently, sculpture.
How do you describe your art in three words?
Queer, Bodies, Desire
Where are you from - and what’s the best and worst thing about the place?
I live and work in London - living in an international city, I’m incredibly lucky to have access on my doorstep to world-class museums and galleries but also so many queer spaces to draw inspiration for my work. The worst thing? Like many cities, the cost of living in London can be difficult for artists; having to fund and progress your practice while sustaining yourself day-to-day can be challenging at times.
If you had to attribute one thing responsible for getting you into art, what would it be?
Artists such as David Hockney, David Wojnarowicz, and Keith Haring have had a huge influence on me and my practice and have given me the agency to make work. Particularly due to their gay subject matter.
What is most of your work focused on?
My practice is primarily concerned with the lives of queer people and the ways in which we exist in the world, both now and throughout history. I take inspiration from the world around me and my relationships, often exploring identity and fluidity through bodily forms, color, and shape. I am currently exploring a new facet of my practice undertaking research funded by Arts Council England into queer spaces within institutional collections in order to develop a new body of ceramic works.
What are the biggest inspirations for your work?
One of my ongoing projects explores desire and excess through a series of drawings that present abstracted and interlocked bodies. A selection of these drawings were exhibited in my 2019 solo exhibition ‘Desire! Desire!’ at Pages of Hackney in London. The drawings present queer figures engaged in sexual activity and are explored with humor and sensuality. I frequently reference contemporary erotic magazines, as well as historical examples from the early 20th century. This is to illustrate the different periods of the LGBTQ+ rights movement. My work seeks to foreground these histories, creating a platform where queer intimacy and desire are celebrated.
Do you believe that art can be a tool for creating change within society?
I believe that art can be a useful tool for visibility and communicating ideas that language can’t always cover. LGBTQ+ lives historically have largely been hidden in art history. Visibility through art and using visual language to communicate can be a useful conduit to initiating change within society.
Other than art - what are you really passionate about?
Friends and family.
What would you have been if you weren’t an artist/illustrator/photographer?
I would love to have studied contemporary dance - I am a passionate follower of choreographers here in London such as Michael Clark.
What’s the first piece of your work that people should check out and why?
I regularly revisit old work - to understand what has changed in my practice and remind myself of how I achieved a particular feeling, surface, or structure of a painting. But as a newcomer to my work? Right now, I’d have to say Knowing Me. It was made earlier this year and is currently on display at Bermondsey Project Space in London. Producing this work was a pivotal moment for my practice, whereby the forms, themes, and structures I’d been developing with my drawing, became confident in my painting.
What do you like to listen to while you work?
What is the best and worst thing about your job?
The best thing, the feeling when a painting comes together. The worst thing, when it doesn’t.
Favorite new/upcoming artist we should check out?
There’s a wave of new US queer artists making phenomenal work at the moment - such as Louis Frantino and Doron Langberg. Defined as ‘Queer Intimists’ they are breaking down the traditional barriers that denied queer experience a chance to embody the universal. Their paintings often depict intimate acts between queer people, making the borders between the figures and their surroundings ambiguous. Definitely check them out!