Chris is a largely self-taught painter. He fell back into painting in 2012 when he was supposed to be doing something else and, fatally distracted, hasn’t been able to find his way back to where he was – not that he has tried particularly hard.
What happened was this. Chris was writing his doctoral thesis and was weighed down by some thorny analytical problems. He painted for relief, and was amazed to find that whilst absorbed in questions of line, colour and movement, he came to solve these intellectual puzzles.
In terms of his approach, he says: “I struggle when I’m required to describe what I do, as I really don’t want to think about it beyond a rather loose framing of purpose. I don’t believe that intellectualising painting generally does it too many favours. Pictures are for the eye and the heart.”
Chris paints mainly in oil and acrylics and with the liberal use of charcoal for weight, depth and movement. He tries not to limit himself in terms of subject – he paints people, interiors and from the natural world, often in combination. He says: “I suppose my paintings about these things, then, and the narratives they suggest. However, I would like to think that if they are about anything, then really my pictures are about their own making.”
He continues: “I’m attracted to the idea of being able to see the ‘carpentry’ in my paintings, and I think it is true of a lot of the work that I love. For me, a painting is ‘finished’ when it is starting to head to where it wants to go, but still shows the traces of how it has got to where it is. I want to see a sense of the labour – the fight – that goes into the making. I want evidence of accidents, of changes of mind, of things going awry and erasures, of work undertaken both carefully and rapidly as an idea starts to grip. Not only does this give the painting a particular kind of narrative, it brings the viewer into the story – as detective of how, and possibly why, a painting diverged from a path assumed.
Chris’ work is owned by collectors in the UK, continental Europe, the United States, Africa, the Caribbean and the far East. He particularly loves the work of David Hockney, Edgar Degas, Lucien Freud, Mark Rothko, Richard Diebenkorn and Vanessa Bell. If he were forced to choose just one of these, it would be Diebenkorn.