Featured in Alan Yentob’s ‘Imagine’ program on BBC1 last year, Chris Gollon is an established name in British painting. Having exhibited with Gavin Turk, Yoko Ono, David Bowie at Chisenhale Gallery, London, and with Bill Viola in St Paul’s Cathedral, he has works in museum collections and has shown at Art Chicago. He was recently also a Fellow and First Artist in Residency at the prestigious Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University. As art historian Tamsin Pickeral recounts well in her recent book (endorsed by Bill Bryson), ‘Chris Gollon: Humanity in Art’ (Hyde & Hughes, 2010), Gollon has always had musicians as friends; from Hurricane Smith (sound engineer to The Beatles, and solo artist), to Keith West of ‘Tomorrow’ or Russell Webb and Richard Jobson of The Skids, as well as classical musicians. From the start of his artistic life Gollon has used the energy and lyrics of great popular music as partial inspiration for his imagery. However, it has taken the collaboration with a young film maker to expose the technical parallel between his musical influences and the continual and determined improvisation in his paintings and printmaking.
When Ronny Haynes was the drummer in the band Serafin, with a no.40 album and a tour of Europe with Frank Black and the Catholics, he started spending his money on art, particularly the work of established British painter Chris Gollon. When he left the band, Haynes became an avid film maker, mainly for English National Opera, Glyndebourne and bands’ videos, but kept his interest in Gollon’s work.
In 2007, he asked Gollon if he could film him making a series of monotypes at a print studio, and put the short film on You Tube, where it has created quite a stir with already over 7,000 viewers. Gollon was experimenting a first time with the use of rollers and also solvents, and called the series ‘The Basement Tapes’,which sold out.
Haynes then visited Chris Gollon at his studio in the Surrey woods, and was impressed by Gollon’s fast-paced painting techniques, partly derived from those of printmaking, and by how they actually seemed akin to ‘jamming’ for musicians. The skilful smallest changes would suddenly bring exciting movement and life to the figures, the mood and the scene. He also discovered just how so many of Gollon’s images are partially inspired by music, or lyrics by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Bryan Ferry or Talk Talk and others; and how his fast-flowing and experimental painting technique is akin to music making.
Haynes was hooked, and has now embarked on making a series of short films of Gollon painting new works, for which he has created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQpG4UuaM5o on You Tube to show them. In the first of the series we see Gollon paint a large canvas called ‘The Party’ from scratch, building up layers and adding thin glazes or ‘washes’ over the grisaille, adding highlights and shadows to bring the figures into movement and life.
This series of short films will be a unique and valuable record of an established British painter at the top of his creative life, pushing the boundaries of the form. One per month will be made, and in the coming months a LIVE feed broadcast of Chris Gollon painting will also be made, and publicized in advance, so you can watch Gollon at work in real time. To follow Chris Gollon on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ChrisGollon or IAP Fine Art Gallery http://twitter.com/IAPFineArt or even join us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Chris-Gollon/298751454556