Categories ArtPosted on

Chris Greene: the Painterly Subversive

Literate, numerate, often amusing and occasionally subversive, the paintings of London-based artist Chris Greene successfully combine the traditions of Western art with contemporary high and low culture.

Literate, numerate, often amusing and occasionally subversive, the paintings of London-based artist Chris Greene successfully combine the traditions of Western art with contemporary high and low culture. In his work, the supposed gulf between abstract and figurative art becomes meaningless as Metaphorical Realism demonstrates the lingering power of his finely crafted painting.

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Much of his work draws upon the literary and artistic canons of Western art. The fantastical characters that share the stage with everyday folk in his canvases embed us in a world of myths and legends; a world far more threatening than the safe, Disneyfied fantasies of most mass media. Chris Greene’s characters – be they bug-eyed or all too human – suggest that not all stories have a happy ending.

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To achieve this artistic tour-de-force Chris Greene combines a background in contemporary oil painting with explorations into the past techniques of the European Masters. Methods of preparing canvases, often following complex geometries based upon some obscure 16th century theory, while using traditional pigments and painting techniques all lend his work a familiar, if rarely seen, power that reminds the viewer of Hogarth or Stanley Spencer.

This is not to say that Chris Greene is content to return to the past by demonstrating his mastery of techniques that most painters can only dream of. Closer inspection of his work will quickly dispel the viewer of any doubts that this work is somehow ‘safe’. His work is amusing, thought-provoking and essentially subversive. Many artists attempt to shock the viewer with poorly executed references to contemporary street slang, advertising or entertainment. Others withdraw into a private world of abstraction or self-analysis that is immune to interpretation. Chris Greene’s work has the ability to transcend much of what passes as art today through its ability to shock, amuse and inform the viewer.

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London is the art world’s bazaar. Through it passes an endless stream of valuable masterpieces, being traded like so many football cards. Meanwhile, artists like Chris Greene work away at producing art that transcends the fashionable, or the safe, in a remarkable way. Visitors to London with an interest in contemporary art should combine their gallery views and blockbuster exhibitions with visits to the many year-end shows, small galleries and open studios that bring artistic London alive.

www.chrisgreene.uk

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