Art, // January 30, 2015
Tem Pok – ARTIST
Interview with artist Tem Pok —
I was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia several years ago after experiencing a psychotic break from reality. It was too distressing to be inside my head any longer so somehow (don’t ask me how) I managed to shut myself out of there.
Years passed and eventually I began to venture back inside, initially by writing a few bits and pieces down in a journal. I literally felt like a blank canvas as far as personality was concerned and over the years of my recovery I began colouring it by developing my opinions and ideas; all the while growing in confidence.
In a way my artworks are a by-product of this journey, although they are also a talisman of the desire not to give up as I utilise art as a form of therapy too. I’m interested in nature – not from a tree hugging perspective (although environmental issues are important to me) but more how the universe works and how we as humans fit into it.
I have always seemed to have the ability to make pictures that people respond to. At the moment I am unable to do much due to still being on the path to recovery, so instead I spend my time making art in order to add my voice to the growing movement towards positive change in the world.
I compare our world as it is to a lie. A lie starts out simple but then you have to propagate it and before long it has grown beyond your control. My art chiefly deals with taking things back to basics and looking at how we work as animals; although breaking down mental health stigma is also a theme.
I use all kinds of media (although because I work at home I tend to use things like oil pastels which aren’t too messy and so won’t incur the wrath of my wife) but I believe that the concept is most important. As I say I escaped my own head so I tend to work things out logically; writing things down and then from there deriving their patterns and metaphors.
Then it’s straight to the canvas and to getting the images out from my head. I value the imperfection that accompanies this approach and also the idiosyncrasy of mistakes; so much so that I avoid sketching in pencil at all as it can be easily erased and ‘corrected’.
I struggle to understand people who make pretty pictures as they are just so far removed from my way of thinking. I enjoy art that stimulates me into reflecting – there’s definitely a difference between being told what to think and being given the opportunity to work things out for yourself (although I worry that it might be too late to allow people at luxury).
I’m sickened to see so many so called artists getting caught up in their own trivialities that my warning has to be this: do not lose sight of the problems in the world (which is easily done) – of course I could be missing the point entirely.