The Art of Kevin Bishop
You can almost hear the whispers of ghosts of abstract expressionists past when you visit the Springs waterfront home and studio of artist Kevin Bishop. His signature paint and resin surfboards have names such as Surfing with Jackson, Lee, Cy or Mark. “It’s absolutely stunning how you can take an idea that is identifiable with an artist and truly make it your own,” says Bishop. “Surfing with Lee, for example, is based on the White Squares Lee Krasner created.”
You might say it was fate that brought Bishop to this artistically inspired part of the Hamptons. Bishop spied a For Sale sign on a drive back from Bay Kitchen in 2014. “I fell in love with the property and the light on Accabonac Harbor behind it,” says Bishop, “The back of the house is just open water and trees and deer and a magical array of birds.”
Bishop had a successful corporate career in marketing, surrounded by graphic designers and artists. “I commissioned work, but I never thought of it for myself,” he explains. His first inspiration was decorating a rented corporate apartment in New York in 2010. “The walls were ugly and I thought I’m going to make something. I went to Home Depot, bought some wood, covered it with fabric inspired by Paul Smith and put it on the wall — it looked fabulous. Then I bought blank canvas and used paint thinking of Mark Rothko. I have always been moved by his work. There is so much depth and intensity in the colors.”
A visit to Pollock’s studio, down the street from his own home and studio, also lit a spark for Bishop. “seeing his workspace,” he says, “inspired me to become more free with color and proportion.” Bishop had his first show at The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton in 2017 and they suggested that he might consider working with resin on top of the work he was creating, horizontal lines based on the harbor views from his windows. These two elements, combined with a chance find on a walk around the harbor, led to the up-cycled surf board series. He recounts, “One day walking beside Accabonac Harbor I came across a surf board that had washed up and had a big gash in the side. I wondered if I could repair it and make a piece of art out of it. I fixed it, painted it and resined it — and it created a wonderful effect!”
This first board he painted, in a very Pollock style, caught the attention of the Main Beach Surf owners who wanted it for their store. Bishop recounts with a laugh his unique recycling idea for the series, “The kids would come into Main Beach and say, ‘Can I get anything for this old surf board?” and they’d say, ‘No it’s too beaten up but we know a guy that might buy it for twenty bucks from you.’ The thought of recycling them into something beautiful that hangs in someone’s house really appeals to me. My only regret is I never surfed when I was young — in the UK, I lived as far from the sea as you can get. I’m not sure in my 50’s if it’s the best time to learn.”
Being a relative newcomer to art and the Springs area, Bishop thought it would be difficult to break into the artistic community but actually found the opposite. The Members Show at Ashawagh Hall introduced him to many. “The artists are happy to talk about their work and techniques. They welcome you to their studios, are fascinated coming to your studio, and are willing to collaborate on new ideas.”
As his work has evolved, so has his collector base — one of his surf boards selling to the CEO of Duane Reade when The White Room Gallery exhibited it at the Scope art fair as part of Art Basel Miami. “You can bridge from the Hamptons art community into the bigger art world,” he notes.
Bishop’s studio, which is open to the public on Saturdays and on holiday weekends, has also attracted interior designers and their clients looking to fill walls of all the pandemic purchased homes. “The key to my eleven-year journey so far,” comments Bishop, “Is that I love it. It’s developed totally organically and is absolutely delightful.”
Springs-studio’s next open studio is September 4th, or view at The White Room Gallery in Bridgehampton.