REDSEA Gallery will be welcoming Christian Palmer from March 29 for his exhibition Famous Last Words. Ahead of the launch, we sat down with Christian to bring you some inspiration behind his work…
The upcoming exhibition at REDSEA Gallery is titled Famous Last Words. What can guests expect from this exhibition?
The current collection of Famous Last Words is an evolution of last years Singapore exhibition showcasing the two disciplines I work in – oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, and spray painted stencils. As far as subject matter goes, there has been a huge diversification over the last twelve months introducing many wild animals including elephants, rhinos, tigers, monkeys, and lions. All my work involves a play on words and all my subjects in the show are animals. I like to choose animals that have an edge about them, animals that are representative of an outsider. From this perspective, I make sense of my own internal dialogue and the irony of the human condition.
The collections makes observation about the human condition. How do you go about choosing the various subjects for each work?
For many years, I only painted dogs as they are well placed to witness the way humans behave. In particular, I focused on the English Bull Terrier primarily because I think they are misunderstood, have a bad reputation and from an aesthetic point of view, I love the shape of their skull and the heavy set figure.
The first dog I painted was mine after I had to put him down. He was only seven years old and had an aggressive cancer. His death had a huge impact on me and completely changed the direction of my work. I was very much ‘in character’ painting dogs, and from there I began to paint cows, then, donkeys, pigs, camels all in a series of paintings. I then moved on to predators and wild animals, so now I feel like I have multiple personality disorder. To me, all my paintings have an angle… For example, when the live export trade to Indonesia had a lot of media coverage, I started painting cattle.
The camels I painted were actually representative of the refugees and their journey, as well as being an outsider that has adapted to the foreign environment so well that they have no created their own problems for indigenous species. Water buffalo are a subject which intrigue me along with cows. I have painted them for some time and represented how they are viewed in different cultures from the West to India. I have cast the Buffalo as a kind of Oracle. My elephants relate to memory and knowledge that has maybe been forgotten or a longing for how things used to be. The donkeys are soul mates wandering the land in search of something that seems to be attainable but is always out of reach. I could keep going on and on but I find the less I say the better. My work kind of speaks for itself anyway!
We are excited that the exhibition will be supporting Wildlife Warriors. Have you always been a supporter for animal rights?
I am really happy to partner with Wildlife Warriors. They do great work. In Singapore, I teamed up with Let Elephants Be Elephants (LEBE) who also do an amazing job to try and stop the ivory trade. I am also building a relationship with Brightside Farm Sanctuary in Tasmania who take in and care for all sorts of animals. I guess you would expect me to be a vegan, but I am just as flawed as most people and my work often deals with the paradox I find my self in. I have a huge amount of respect for the passionate people who dedicate their lives trying to make a difference. If I can help in some small way I am really happy to do so and very grateful I am now at a stage I can make a contribution.
You are originally from UK but now reside in the beautiful Byron Bay. How has this change in location affected your painting?
I was born in London and grew up there but I also moved around a lot and loved to travel. I first came to Byron 15 years ago, and it felt like I had found what I had been looking for. So much has changed since then, but it still a special place. Byron attracts many artists, writers, musicians, and people looking for an alternative lifestyle. I am no different in that respect. It’s a great fit and perfect synergy. As far as my work goes, I work from my home studio, surrounded by nature and it’s my favourite place to be so I couldn’t ask for more. My neighbour has a couple of pet cows and they are very friendly. I often paint them and they feature in the show.
You did an exhibition not long ago with Banksy. Tell us a bit about what it was like working with him?
I am represented by a gallery in London where I had a solo show at the beginning of 2013. Prior to that I was involved in a couple of group shows with them – one of which was URBAN ART EXPLOSION. Banksy was involved along with Mr.Brainwash, T.WAT and a few others. I was very happy the curator chose my work to be in the show, but beyond that I can’t tell you much. I wasn’t in the UK. I was in my studio as I am most of the time. It was a turning point I guess with Banksy being such a household name, and I really like what he does and where he is coming from, but I could say the same about many other urban artists. There is so much talent out there, it’s overwhelming.
March 19, 2014