THE ART FIVE, Issue 3, with Artist, Christopher Pearson
Updated: Oct 24, 2020
CP: Working as a multi-disciplinary artist, I would definitely say that my prints are very closely related to my sculptures, and vice versa, and that they do inform one another all the time. In the past, I have produced series of etchings and screenprints which are in direct response to various sculptures I was making at the time, where I sought to translate the actions and gestures used in my sculptural practice into printmaking. Equally, I have also produced printed works which have later become sculptures. Some of my more recent sculptures, such as those in my ‘Procession’ series, can be seen as ‘expanded paintings’ as they use liquid colour which sets on or into fabric, but in a three-dimensional way and without the formal restriction of working within a rectangular plane, resulting in various open-ended and anthropomorphic interpretations. In Procession, I sought to stage an active interplay between fluid/changeable and frozen/fixed materials, and I view printmaking in much the same way: pushing the boundaries of what I can achieve through print processes by incorporating experimental layers of chine-collé into my prints, and by embossing into the paper rather than solely printing onto it. This, in turn, highlights the sculptural qualities of the fabric of paper, for example, in my Metallic Gestures series, where a mirror-like surface is used which adds a further performative relationship to the work: between the viewer and their reflection. An additional parallel between my sculptures and prints can be drawn from the fact that both tend to be the product of a simple act of transformation, or the event of putting together two materials which results in a performance of these constituent parts acting upon one another in continuum. I see this process to be almost photographic in the way that it captures and freezes one particular moment in time within my work. Moreover, printmaking and sculpture, in my practice, have always been and continue to be simultaneous lines of enquiry that lie parallel to one another and continuously feed into the way my artwork develops, and I do not view either discipline as secondary to the other.
CP: In lockdown, I am working on a new series of paintings on beautiful, recycled khadi paper. These are a very small size (A5/14.8cm x 21cm), which is a new approach for me as I am used to working on a much larger scale in a freer and largely uninhibited way, but I have found that focusing inwards on exacting, detailed work has, surprisingly, been of great help to my state of mind during lockdown. These paintings are based on various scenes captured on my phone of ‘small, glowing moments’ and ‘phenomena’ where light has made the colours around me behave in arresting ways, moments where one finds the everyday infused with a sense of the sublime or ethereal. These include daily walks around my hometown for fresh air and nature, star-gazing at the night sky (particularly to see the Lyrid Meteor Showers and the International Space Station), images of various artworks of mine wrapped up in storage, and rays of sunlight cast through windows resulting in a collision of private, interior, quarantined space and the outside world to which we are only permitted limited access. I am working on some new copper hard- ground etching plates and carborundum aluminium plates for when I may next be able to visit East London Printmakers, where I am an Associate Member, and I have also produced a few casts in paper pulp as a variation on my Splice series of pigmented plaster casts.
CP: The lockdown has certainly affected my creative practice as it has stopped me from producing prints at East London Printmakers for the foreseeable future, and, as I do not have a home studio, it has made the production of new sculptures particularly difficult. However, I do feel grateful for the time I now have to pause, reflect and re-evaluate my decision-making and to think about the ways in which I intend to move forward with my practice after we emerge from our current state of quarantine. Slowing down, being still and giving yourself time to breathe, collect your thoughts and consider your options is vital, and something I do not feel I had time to do often enough before the lockdown, as I was working full-time alongside trying to sustain my art practice. The pace of life has become more manageable now, and I feel that it is vital to harness the creative potential of what one can achieve during this time. However, I feel it is important to try not to feel as much pressure to be as productive as one was under usual circumstances as this is a long period of adjustment to a new way of living.
CP: I am very eager to make new sculptural work and to return to the print workshop (East London Printmakers) once quarantine is over. At ELP, I have been working on several new editions of my Metallic Gestures series of carborundum embossings with metallic chine-collé in readiness for the launch of Kovet.Art, as well as various experimental carborundum prints entitled Improvised Rhythms, and soon a new series of hard-ground etchings, too. I look forward to resuming this work in due course. Furthermore, I have developed quite an obsession with paper lately in all its various forms, textures and compositions, and bought plenty of new papers, tissues and other substrates from Shepherds Falkiners before the lockdown began.
These include shimmering, textured Unryu and Midare Japanese papers gilt with metallic surfaces, an intense Arches Velin Noir Imperial French paper, various tissue papers for chine-collé in coral pink, electric blue, deep orange and different metallic hues, amongst many other fascinating surfaces. In addition, I am very much looking forward to being able to collaborate on projects with fellow artists in person post-quarantine. Currently, I am working towards all future shows and opportunities through digital means as this is the only option available until the right time arises for the government to relax social distancing measures.
CP: The soonest exhibitions in which I will be participating are online shows of the work of the inaugural group of eight artists represented by Kovet.Art (@kovetdotart), a new art tech start-up using Blockchain which is launching in June 2020. I have had the good fortune to have been selected as one of the first artists to be represented by this new company, and various prints from my new Metallic Gestures editions will feature in their first meticulously curated online show, titled ‘Delineating Dreams’, followed by an online autumn show in direct response to the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Upcoming, postponed exhibitions include ‘It remained to be seen’ at PADA Studios, Barreiro, Portugal, which was due to run from 4th to 23rd April and will now take place later this year or in spring 2021. Here, I will create an installation of twelve casts hanging within the exhibition space and I will host a site-specific ‘fieldwork casting’ workshop with the public. I have also been invited by Made in Arts London to show my Splice series of pigmented plaster casts at the Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead, as part of a group show of selected works by UAL artists represented by Made in Arts London, from 19th to 22nd November 2020. Additionally, as a member of Alter Us, an emergent, multi-disciplinary art collective, I will feature in a potentially recurring pop-up event at Clerkenworks, London (originally due to occur in June) to raise funds for a larger exhibition we shall be putting on at St. John on Bethnal Green Church in November 2020, which our collective is working towards together in response to the metaphorical question “are we moving towards the last sunset, or a new sunrise?”.
Thank you to Christopher Pearson for participating in THE ART FIVE, Issue 3.
Christopher Pearson (b.1994) is a London-based contemporary artist working between sculpture and printmaking. Pearson graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London last year, and holds a BA (Hons) in Art & Design from the University of Leeds. Pearson’s practice is primarily concerned with process-led abstraction, anthropomorphism, acts of transformation and the notion of staging performances between component materials, amongst many other areas of interest. For more information, visit his website at www.christopherpearson.co.uk.
Download the interview:
All artwork images © Christopher Pearson