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This is an evolving online exhibition, more works will be added as they are completed – check back from time to time.
(137) Christopher Russell - Mayday and Toyland in The Red Square. 2020.
A page from a children’s encyclopedia that was edited by Enid Blyton provided the stimulus for this artwork. The black and white image displays a May Day parade in Red Square Moscow during the 1950s. The military hardware lined up is colourful but part of a sinister agenda while the beautiful architecture and visuals are like the wonderous shapes of Toyland in Blyton’s children’s books. As a child, I was quite influenced by Blyton’s stories and instantly saw the irony in her connection with the encyclopedia and some of the unsettling themes in her stories.
The Red Square has many colourfully shaped buildings that remind me of dreamland environments full of giant ice creams, brightly painted pull toys, rocket ships, party animal balloons, and toy soldiers. The current day danger of militaristic and confrontational posturing can be an entertaining spectacle because of the grandeur and packaging, however, when unwrapped it still explodes.
I like to paint in an expressionist or neo-expressionist style pictures that display imagery in a stagelike environment. Researching subject matter is important and mulling over the way an idea is presented consume as much time as painting it some days. My subject matter is often elongated, distorted, and repeated throughout the composition to emphasise and exaggerate movement and rhythm. The colour palette in my work is often limited so when intermixing I maintain a relationship between the main primary colours selected. However, I also overlay vivid hues (complementary colours) to produce strong contrast and play around with tonal variation to indicate multiple sources of lighting. These techniques are important for creating a charged atmosphere.
In my work, objects often lose their identity as I shift from tight to a loose arrangement of dragged and hacked brushwork. I avoid completely describing a scene.
The subject matter in my work is always relevant to personal experiences. The experience may be a delayed reaction or direct response to an event in real life.
Emotional wellbeing determines how controlled I become with a painting. Often many layers are painted and then overlayed with colour breathing through the gaps or emerging as halos left around a shape.
These days I sketch fewer detailed plans of my ideas to assess how well they communicate as a visual language.
Overall, subject matter in my work is always relevant to personal experiences be it a delayed reaction or direct response to an event in real life.
Link to Chris’s Art Aviso profile HERE
Chris was provided with the following page from Newnes’ Pictorial Knowledge Encyclopedia:
Newnes’ Pictorial Knowledge Encyclopedia
The story of the World and it’s peoples
The Red Square Moscow