I am back home in my studio after a journey to New York City to attend the opening reception for my exhibition that runs through to June 11. On the evening of the 26th, I had the chance to meet with and talk to collectors — and send some paintings on their way to new homes where I know they’ll be appreciated for ages to come. Sitting in a studio working on paintings can be a solitary experience, so it is redemptive to meet people who share an interest in what you do and are enthusiastic enough to talk to you about art for a good half hour.
When asked to come to New York, I jumped at the opportunity. I would treat it like a pilgrimage to the art galleries; my mission would be to meander at my own pace. I visited The Museum of Modern Art, The Frick Collection, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I went back to the MoMA and The Met twice; I wanted to get my money’s worth. I clocked nearly 20km a day on foot as I took guided tours and spent much time soaking up the atmosphere. These galleries also offer self-guided audio tours, so I listened to many curators and art historians talking about numerous artworks. I came home feeling fulfilled and satisfied. It was a good trip.
The remainder of my summer will be in my studio, working on a commission and four new large paintings for upcoming art fairs in Seattle and The Hamptons.
American Art Collector magazine has featured my work in the past, and it is always an honour to be invited to do so again. Below you can read a recent interview about my latest body of work for my 6th solo exhibition at the George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles.
British Columbia artist Christopher Stott introduces a new collection of work displayed at George Billis Gallery in Los Angeles, California, through March 26. He continues to paint in his distinctive, realistic style, featuring still life, vintage objects like typewriters, box cameras, clocks and books. In keeping with the tradition of the early Dutch Masters, who have had a huge influence on his work, his pieces are full of significance and hidden meaning.
“At first glance, Stott’s paintings are elegantly refined compositions of objects on a monochromatic background,” says Tressa Williams, director at George Billis Gallery, “but digging a little deeper, the viewer falls down a rabbit hole of symbolism…Stott is part of a new generation of representational painters pushing the genre forward in fantastic ways.
It’s true that Stott has been painting the same genre, always still life objects. “In fact,” he says, “the telephone is the first object I ever painted 20 years ago.” He notes that a vintage, black rotary phone was the first object given to him in art class to paint. “What makes it still fresh?” he continues, “the idea is still relevant to today. With a receiver, you’re both talking and listening. You must stop and listen before talking; it’s a one-on-one conversation. Now, we live in a world where everyone screams over everyone else, but no one is listening.”
In Telephone Receiver I, a highly realistic black telephone on a gray background with a pencil nearby, one can clearly see the simplicity behind his vision. “The idea behind this is very subtle,” says Stott. “I’m not telling people to shut up and listen but rather, offering a meditation on real and meaningful conversations.”
The formal aspects of painting are also important to Stott, which goes hand in hand with history. “I really think that good art is connected to art history,” he says. “It has to have a bridge or passage directly to the history of painting. My subjects are old enough to be in our living memory, but the style, technique and composition are hundreds of years old.”
This is illustrated in The Interpretation of Dreams 112021, featuring a collection of vintage books with a clock on a white shelf. The way Stott uses these props is reminiscent of master still life painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. “He was the first to have stepped out of academic painting and painted strangely intimate, quiet paintings,” says Stott. “[The new collection] is a direct homage to paintings done in 1766. The same ideas of what they were doing several hundred years ago are still relevant to us now.”
Stott utilizes the same techniques that Dutch masters were using 400 years ago. He works in many layers to create a luminous effect under different lighting. It’s also very much about balance and symmetry for Stott, which is represented in his clock pieces. For instance, 10:10, No. 10. is painted on a 10-by-10-inch canvas with the clock hands set to 10:10.
A component also near to the artist’s heart is the history of vintage objects and even the process of searching them out. “For this particular show, I want the experience to be how I experience walking into an antique shop or museum,” Stott says. “You come upon them and look at them a little closer.” The show will have smaller paintings with several hanging closer together in groupings, so as to mimic this feeling. He adds, “I [want people to see] how I like to isolate these items and give them a new life.”
I’m so pleased to announce that my 2022 calendar has been published by Itoya and sold exclusively in Itoya’s stores in Japan. The designers in Japan do a fantastic job making this large, sturdy calendar. It is an honour to work with them.
I have eight paintings in my studio that I have not shared yet. Here is one that I just put the finishing touch on. I am focused on working toward my upcoming February 2022 exhibition in Los Angeles. It’s just easier to spend my time painting to forget about taking photos of the progress and constantly being tied to social media.
This was a bit of a battle to complete, but I’m pleased with the outcome.
The next several months will be painting for an upcoming solo exhibition in Los Angeles. I have been exhibiting my work in galleries for twelve years now, and every time, the gear up and anticipation for making a large body of work always feels the same — I fluctuate between being kind of nervous and kind of excited.
I was recently contacted by an Italian publisher who requested using one of my paintings for the cover a new book called Libro di furti by Eugenio Baroncelli. They chose a painting of mine from 2007 — which seems a lifetime ago. But you can see I have clearly stuck with the theme as my current work also features some pencils.
And The Poetry Business out of the United Kingdom (who have also used one of my paintings for their magazine) used one of my paintings — a more recent piece from 2017 — for the cover of Talking to Stanley on the Telephone by Michael Schmidt. A book of poetry that, unlike the Italian book, I can read and appreciate. Oh, how I wish I could speak and read Italian.
I was pleased to see my paintings featured on the covers of some literary publications in the United Kindom recently.
My painting Nine Clocks was one of three paintings I had in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 last year. You can read about that exhibition here. Aesthetica also has a writing award and their tradition is to use one of the visual images from the art prize to feature on the cover of the anthology for the writing award.
The Poetry Business from the United Kingdom publishes The North Magazine twice a year, so it was nice to have them reach out to me to ask if they could feature one of my paintings on the cover. It’s validating when poets and writers are able to connect my work with their craft. They chose The Relationship Between Blue & Green from 2015.
Published by Itoya and sold exclusively in Itoya’s stores in Japan, the 2021 calendar may be my favourite so far. The designers and printers in Japan do a fantastic job making this large, sturdy calendar. It is an honour to work with them.
Imagine my delight when I walked into the York Art Gallery in England and saw my paintings hanging in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020 exhibition. Amongst numerous conceptual installations, photographs and television screens all over the walls, there they were… my paintings.
The editor of Aesthetica is able to see the connections and she was able to instantly tune in to how my paintings act as a bridge to the contemporary art scene with what clearly are traditionally executed paintings.
I spent many years studying contemporary art. I majored in photography at university and I’m comfortable when surrounded by conceptual installations — in fact, I myself have produced many. In forthcoming posts, I will explain precisely what my intentions are with my paintings, but for now, enjoy these few photographs of the installation at the York Art Gallery by photographer Jim Poyner.
Leading up to March 13 opening of the exhibition in York, England was obviously a confusing situation. In my part of the world, everything was already entering COVID-19 shut-down, but the United Kingdom maintained the status quo and everything was set to go ahead as planned. I had the strongest feelings that I was getting my England excursion just under the wire. It turned out exactly as I had anticipated with the added anxiety about supposed travel bans and being trapped forever and far away from my family. It didn’t turn out that way. My travel days were fine, I enjoyed a free upgrade to a more comfortable seat as I flew home over the Atlantic. I am now in the midst of a self-quarantine along with millions and millions of others.
To be very honest, little has changed in my daily life. For a decade I have set myself up in my studio for months on end to concentrate on painting. Audiobooks, podcasts, music, streaming radio from around the world — I never feel isolated or alone. I know this is true of my fellow artists and has been true of artists for millennia.
So wherever you are, I hope you’re well, I hope you’re coping, I hope this passes soon and we can get a grip on what it all means.
I have a commission I’m working on, as well as several new paintings for a planned exhibition in New York City this coming September. We shall see how this pans out. Whatever the case is, I’m positive I’ll have a body of work I’m proud of in a few short months.
I am very excited to announce that my work has been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2020.
The renowned Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition returns this Spring, inviting audiences to discover and engage with new ideas from the next generation of talent. Hosted by the international art and culture publication Aesthetica Magazine, it redefines the parameters of contemporary art.
Since its establishment 13 years ago, the prize has provided a platform for artists from across the world, supporting and enhancing their careers through prize money, exhibition, publication and talent development, inviting leading jurors such as Sarah Allen, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern; Claire Catterall, Senior Curator, Somerset House; Damon Jackson-Waldock, Deputy Curator, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Pierre Saurisse, Lecturer, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and Eliza Williams, Editor, Creative Review.
The 2020 exhibition includes 18 artists that respond to today’s key issues, unpacking the layers of digitalised, globalised world. It is an honour to have my work selected out of thousands of entries.
As Cherie Federico, Director of Aesthetica, notes: “This Prize reflects upon the global situation – actions, behaviours and developments that are changing society. These artists are responding to the world around us, offering genuine insight into how we can encourage positive change. I am privileged to have the opportunity to see and support so much talent.”
Audiences can see my Ampro Precision Projector painting and other selected works at the exhibition which runs March 13 – July 5 at York Art Gallery, United Kingdom.
2020 brings in another calendar from ITOYA in Japan. For the past four years, this fine stationery store sells a calendar they produce with my images. It’s a total delight and I love it — large and sturdy and tastefully designed.
This year ITOYA has also added a desk calendar.
The calendars are only available in the Japanese market — if you’re outside of Japan, try using tenso.com to import the calendar. You can find the calendar on the ITOYA website here.