Alyssa Dabbs is a contemporary British abstract artist who recently graduated Loughborough University, with a First Class BA Hons in Fine Art. Dabbs states that it has become increasingly important to continually question the purpose of painting in the 21st century. At a time when there are so many creative mediums available to express creativity and ideas, painting remains a popular and powerful medium. Its ability to ‘exchange thoughts’ and depict ‘histories, ideas, events and emotions’ is both poignant and relevant (Harris et al. 2003, p.73). Put plainly, a ‘painting is a flat surface covered with colours arranged in a certain order’ (Chipp, 1986, p.94). Dabbs is intrigued by the limitless potential that the combination of surface and colour holds and its ability to evoke human response. Primacy of mark making and raw expression is fundamental to abstract painting. She is drawn to its ability to aid self-discovery and believes that abstract painting can be described as an act of self- investigation for both the artist and the viewer.
During lockdown, curator Amanda Jewell visited Alyssa in her studio to interview her about her work. Below is a transcribed excerpt from the conversation, and the full video can be viewed at the end.
Amanda Jewell (AJ) in conversation with Alyssa Dabbs (AD)
AJ: Looking back over the last 8 months, and the last exhibition we presented at Sewel Centre Gallery at Radley College, Oxford ('Subconcious Realism', 11th January - 13th February 2020, in association with Zuleika Gallery) which, at the time felt such an optimistic exhibtion; green shoots in a world that was looking quite gloomy for young people, with the fast approaching Brexit and the uncertainty we could see coming out of the situation. Obviously no-one knew we'd end up with a global pandemic, and we'd end up being in lockdown for a long time...How are you feeling about the situation?
AD: It's one of those situations where you just have to go with the flow and roll with it. It has been a good time for me to reflect on my work, especially my uni work, and really think about what I've been doing. I've had time to reflect on the work that I've made. I've had more time to be organised and considered, and think about what what I'm making. I think it's made my work more meaningful.
AJ: Can you talk about your Final Degree Show, because obviously that was a very different experience from how you imagined it was going to be?
AD: Because we couldn't have a degree show, which I was really excited for after four years, it was the final thing for me to show everything that I'd worked so hard on - I'd produced all the work but then when we knew we couldn't have a physical show, I had to make a proposed exhibition showing what I would have done. We could have used a space of our choice, making a proposal for an exhibition at, for example, the Turbine Hall (at Tate Modern), or how we would have presented it at Loughborough University Studios as it would have looked in reality. But you could go above an beyond, so I made a virtual exhibition in a completely random space, it was just a white-walled gallery, and I was able to put every single piece that I felt really deserved a place in my Final Degree Show, instead of maybe two or three works that showed my paintings, which was really difficult to do, especially with abstract painting, to whittle down what four years of work means to you.
With special thanks to Alyssa Dabbs and Amanda Jewell. Filming by Mark Jewell.
Alyssa Dabbs (b.1998) Bella, 2018, acrylic, ink and oil on canvas, 120 x 240 cm
View Alyssa's Final Degree Show 2020 virtual exhibition, 'Transcendental' here
Find more about Alyssa Dabbs and view more works here