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Q&A: Paul Senyol

We chatted to this Cape Town-based artist about how he became a painter and what he has planned for 2014. 1. Growing up, you never envisioned yourself becoming an artist and didn’t receive any formal training. What inspired you to start? I was initially inspired by skateboarding and skateboard graphics, as well as the layouts in skateboarding magazines and the illustrations and artists who were sometimes profiled in these publications. Guys like Ed Templeton, Marc Gonzales and Barry McGee, who were all involved on the graphic side of skateboarding at the time, shaped my initial views of the art world. 2. When did you know that ‘art’ was what you wanted to do? I started drawing when I was 16, and about a year later I started painting. I worked so many odd jobs and never really found anything that I felt I could stick with for a lifetime. My big jump into art came when the surf shop where I was working at the time closed down. I felt I didn’t have much choice other than to start painting full time. That was about eight or nine years ago. It’s been hard, hard work, but so far, so good. 3. Which one of your pieces did you enjoy creating the most, and why? I really enjoy working on a large scale. I also enjoy commissioned artworks. I completed a number of commissions towards the end of last year, which I really enjoyed working on. One of my favourite paintings ('In Passing') got selected last year for the Absa L’Atelier top 100 competition. That made me very happy. 4. You’ve exhibited across the globe. Which exhibition stands out for you? I have shown numerous times with my friend Wesley van Eeden (most recently at /A WORD OF ART). I have also shown with Andrzej Urbanski at Salon91. Showing alongside them has really pushed my work in new directions. 5. Like with many artists, your work is entirely open to interpretation. What is the strangest, or best, interpretation you’ve heard about one of your pieces? Last week it was ‘jellyfish'. I quite enjoy that people see different things in my work than what I originally intended them to see. 6. If you could have dinner with one artist from any period, who would it be, and why? It would be Jean-Michel Basquiat. He is one of my favourite painters. He passed away so young and I would have liked to see what he would be producing if he were still alive today. 7. What are your plans for 2014? I have a number of group shows lined up. Firstly, in April I will be marrying the most beautiful girl in the world. Then it’s off to Finland in June and Germany in July for residency projects. In November, I will be showing solo at Salon91. For more information about Paul or to view his work, visit Interviewed by Lindi Brownell Meiring