I am absolutely amazed by Chris's art and am glad to present this interview with him.
Tell us about yourself , when you first started getting into art and how has the journey been since?
As far back as I can remember I’ve been compelled to express myself through drawing. By my early- to mid-twenties I began to pursue this compulsion with more vigor. I discovered pastel drawing and dove into them for about ten years until I figured out Oils in 1999-2000. Since then Oils have remained my medium of choice. Thus far it has been a fulfilling journey.
When did your dark art style begin and how has it progressed over time?
I think the vision I have has always been there, though different media can bring out my vision in different ways. The capability that oil paint offers has been a great vehicle for me. Generally the paintings tend to come out like they do as I am listening to the world around me, and how the paint and surface are speaking to me. I don’t think of my paintings as being dark so much as figures and environments that are unique. I think that nature’s own design can presents itself in such bizarre fashion that a human being can be startled by it at first glance. I don’t think that this is because there is “darkness” but rather that there is unfamiliarity. Hopefully my paintings allow the viewer to ponder this wider point.
You have your own unique twist on Zombie like creatures. What do they represent / relate to?
The figures that I express can represent friend or foe depending on the theme and composition of the particular painting that I am working on. I try to avoid repetition, especially when it comes to faces. I try to keep what I am painting interesting to me. If my work is in any way a challenge to view, I would hope that from here a conversation might extend to examine why, and to the tendency of how we as people might judge another whom we deem “different” or “challenging”. Much of this tendency of mine to force this conversation comes primarily from growing up with a brother who suffers from schizophrenia and how, due to a lack of understanding of his “different” state, there was, at times, ostracism and avoidance of him.
The creatures are often in numbers within ancient city type environments, what is your idea behind this?
I have always been inspired by the pale faces and severe poses of the medieval Dutch and Flemish school of painting. The figures in my paintings are often on the outskirts of a city or town. To me this represents their outsider status. At times I will include numbers on figures to represent their Cog Status. At other times I place letters, numbers or symbols for mere graphic aesthetics.
3 words to describe your art?
Expressive, informative, enjoyable.
How do you achieve these haunting color schemes? What techniques, mediums etc. do you use?
There is a certain mixing procedure I have developed to complement the background colors that I have applied as a base. I try to always allow for the the right amount of texture or tooth to grab the paint. I shoot for a mood of “Fall in the Midwest” (where I reside); a sky just before a storm where the hues are surreal; a light that is between day and night.
Which other artists do you admire and how has their art influenced your style?
There is so much that inspires. I’ve seen such great, fearless art on trips to Mexico, so much stunning art in Europe - both traditional and contemporary - and inspiring work right here, in museums or schools or fairs. There is Ivan Albright, Zdzislav Beksinski, Sally Mars, Rembrandt, Otto Dix, so many expressionists and surrealists. There are also many contemporaries that are doing such amazing work, here in America and all over. I am influenced by so much that is visual - this includes movies as well, and nature. How any single thing might influence me in particular is hard to pinpoint, I only know that many things do.
You have also done various films.
How do you find that relates to your paintings and what message or output did you have in mind?
Though painting is my primary means to express, filmmaking is yet another medium that allows me to, from time to time, express myself in yet another way, apart from painting. I usually take the same approach as I do with painting: I think about the world I’m in, what the medium - the film, the image, the motion - is saying to me and what I want to say through it. Though there are similarities in mood and message, the process is quite different.
What has been most memorable during your career as an artist?
I think when, after so many years of starts and stops as I tried to say what I meant to with oil paint, and was met so many times with failure, a very memorable moment was when some switch was flipped inside me, so to speak, and I began to crack oil paint’s code. I knew that some door had opened. I remain transfixed and mystified by the medium.
What projects are you working and what are your future plans?
I just finished a short film called “Flowers For Jupiter” that will appear soon on my website chrismarspublishing.com. Currently I have an exhibition up at Mesa Contemporary Arts in Arizona that runs through August and which will continue on to the Erie Art Museum in Pennsylvania in October. I plan to keep painting and creating wherever my inspirations might take me.
Check out his site as well as his store.