In Christopher Campbell’s new paintings, the suburban idyll is blasted. The young London-based realist casts his eye over the semi-detached Mock-Tudor facades of the houses that fringe the North Circular, and records how they have borne the brunt of the explosive expansion of the 21st century metropolis. These clichés of 1930s domestic comfort have become architectural road-kill, left to rot beside the A406, as the traffic grinds by.
Bay windows are breeze-blocked. Gunmetal grey steel sheets make a sealed tomb of what was once a home. Occasionally an occupied house, with neat nets and a Sky dish, hangs on to gentility for dear life, chocked on all sides by decay and pollution. As the title of one painting encapsulates, this is a Sorry State of Affairs.
Yet Campbell, described by the Independent as ‘obsessed with light, but not as we know it’, discovers beauty and drama amongst the rot. With all this kerbside dereliction come the multifarious colours of clouds and the vivid spray of graffiti. In scrupulously crafted oils, the series embraces night studies in the key of blue, the murky damp of late afternoon and incandescent morning skies tinged with violet.
As the artist says ‘These paintings are about truth in a compositional sense, yet are intertwined with a fictional narrative’. In their catastrophic abandonment, Campbell has found in these houses the spirit of the romantic and the lovelorn.
Born in 1975, Campbell studied Fine Art at Leeds Metropolitan University. Graduating in 1998, he has exhibited in both public and commercial galleries as well as art fairs in the UK and the USA. This exhibition follows two previous successes for Christopher Campbell at StART SPACE: Day of the Triffids in 2006 and Epoch in 2007.
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