Artist Spotlight: Ishmael Claxton

Words: Izzy Copestake

Images: Ishmael Claxton

Ishmael Claxton is an award winning Dublin based fine artist and photographer. He’s lived and worked in New York City, Morocco, the Caribbean, Berlin and Paris, picking up styles and inspiration along the way, to create pieces centred around a key concern in his work: connection. Ishmael’s photography uses a pastiche of different artistic styles, such as Italian Futurism, surrealism, and Afro-Futurist imaginaries to make his work an outlet for political expression, often touching on themes of race, gender, and class.

Does your New York background have an influence on your work today?

“Oh, yeah. I think it’s influenced me. That’s why a lot of my work tends to deal with, the past, and future, but being present. I also started photography in New York as well. I used to go to museums when I was a kid. I’d always go to the Met Museum, and I used to photograph sculptures. There was this famous artist Richard Avedon, and one thing he used to do is that he used to go to the museum, and he’d find a piece and photograph it over and over. That was one thing I did. It really helps me understand lighting with certain things and contrast as well. So I used to do that a lot in that sort of New York thing, couldn’t do it anywhere else.”

You’ve lived and worked all over the world, how has living in Ireland impacted your work?

“When I was in Morocco, one of the things I learned is how to do stuff with nothing. And I realised then coming back home that being privileged and living in Europe, as an American, there’s so much we take for granted. It really made me appreciate the art form more, and got me thinking about different ways of processing the art and working through the art. There’s a lot of things within the Irish culture context that I have fallen quite in love with.”