Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Art Space Talk: Chris Parks

I recently interviewed artist Chris Parks. Chris creates abstract art that reveals a vision of an ethereal world. Chris utilizes mixed media within a liquid medium in order to create flowing paintings. The 'moving paintings' are then 'frozen' at a particular moment in time through the use of photography.

Mr. Parks does not digitally manipulate his art. All aspects of color and form are visible at the time of capturing the image. He uses organic particles to add a natural randomness to the flow and feel of the images. The paintings only exist for a moment. Thus, Chris takes images of the desired effect before it is gone forever.

Chris was commissioned by director Darren Aronofsky to produce organic fluid effects for the movie The Fountain. (Observe the trailer.)

I'd like to thank Fraser Kee Scott, director of Agallery, for introducing me to Mr. Parks.

You can buy Chris's art here:

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "My professional life has always been focused on the creative, whether wildlife and marine film and photography, special effects work, museum exhibit or special venue films. Art has always been a great interest and has influenced my other creative work. Now that I am able to spend more time on it, these other creative disciplines are feeding back into my art. I have never really drawn a line between ‘art’ and anything else creative as they are just different ways in which I express or communicate."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "That is a hard question because I think I am influenced by everything visual and plenty that isn’t visual. Sometimes it is conscious but often it is a subconscious thing. At the moment my work particularly explores colour and movement so everything from how the old masters handled light, via the colour studies of the Bauhaus to the light paintings of Rob and Nick Carter or the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge and graffiti art of Temper."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "Massively! A lot of my life has revolved around water, from many years of competitive rowing, to sailing and hundreds of hours spent diving or filming marine wildlife. A lot of my work is an abstract representation of my marine or freshwater experiences, whether based on the nature of light under the waves, the power of a storm, the feeling of moving efficiently through or over water or the more tangible movements of marine creatures."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "There doesn’t seem to be a pattern as such but my work often provokes a reaction in people who have experience of diving as they pick up on those influences in my work. I am continually interested by the pieces that people gravitate towards. Everyone goes for different pictures and it is usually their experiences or their background that draws individuals to different works."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "Poseidon’s Static grew out of my trying to paint the soundscape that surrounds you when you are under the ocean. The clicks, roars, snaps and myriad of sounds that come from the creatures and the movement of the water is a huge part of the underwater experience and is so full of colour. This piece set out to capture that."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "I very much start with an idea. This might be followed through, as in the case of Poseidon’s Static, or I can be taken off at a tangent as the picture evolves. The process involves painting within a small volume of liquid, about the size of a cup. The liquid becomes my three dimensional canvas and I paint within that using brushes and needles with paints, inks dyes and a range of organic particles. Different liquids allow me to control the ‘canvas’ in different ways. I work on a very small, sometimes microscopic scale as this helps me with the control. The smaller the volume of liquid the more it behaves like a solid and so the more accurately I can work. Some pictures are the size of a pinhead. The painting though, being in a liquid, is continually in movement, so once I have it as I want it I use photography to ‘freeze’ it."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "The medium has evolved out of my other work. My father and I originally developed the techniques and the equipment that I use for this work, for filming marine organisms – many of them so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye. I enjoy the fact that the technique that I now make use of was originally developed to enable me to film the habitat and some of the creatures that I am now using as my inspiration. It also allows me to work in a way that is totally unique and lends itself to exploring depth and movement which I am usually looking to capture."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "I did a degree in engineering initially before doing a masters in design at the Royal College of Art. They have helped the practical and problem solving side of what I do as well as giving something of a business grounding which helps me to spend more time concentrating on the creative side of things. The Royal College of Art is a hotbed of ideas and creativity and its strength is as much in the courses that you interact with as the course you doing."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "On my website at"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "Agallery –

I am exhibiting at The Great Art Fair in London from 30th November – 3rd December."
Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "Democratisation of the art market with less reliance on galleries to promote one’s work and working much more closely with galleries when putting on shows or exhibitions. While most people want to see a work of art before buying it, so minimizing the amount of work that will be bought directly through websites, I think that artists websites do help potential buyers find new artists and get in contact directly – rather then purely being able to see what is in the galleries and shows."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Do what you love and persevere. You have to persevere to succeed and you will only be able to persevere if you love what you do. Be a sponge! Absorb ideas and information from everything around you, whether it be books, other artists or your surroundings."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "I have been very lucky but rejection is always tough and as an artist you have to learn to deal with it because it is very much a part of the process."
Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I am never as content as when I am expressing myself artistically, exploring an idea or working towards a goal, oblivious to time and totally absorbed in what I am doing."

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Soon!"

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "My studio is in a little village, on the edge of the Cotswolds, out west of Oxford. There are a lot of very good artists around here doing some great work including Hamish Mackie the sculptor and Jennifer Newman the painter and sculptor, both who do a lot of work directly for clients rather than relying on galleries. Local galleries (as a gross generalization) tend to concentrate on local scenes by local artists and de Montford reproductions."

I hope you have enjoyed my interview with Chris Parks. Feel free discuss his work.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin


Anonymous said...

wow, really amazing work here

Anonymous said...

Good questions and amazing mastery of color (and space...a pinhead painting! Still unbelievable!) and the ebb and flow of shades and shapes. Very, very real, and very, very abstract.

I'd be interested in hearing a follow-up (in the lines of the wired article) re: The Fountain

Anonymous said...

i really do like this set of Chirs Parks works...

and listening to "away from apthay" from this link :
explore orgasmic (not in a sexual sense) :D