Over 20 years of representing Chris Gollon, IAP Fine Art has exhibited only very few self portraits in all that time. As Chris Gollon turns 60 this year, to celebrate the event he thought he would do a series of paintings of his favourite subject: himself. He has taken another look at Expressionism, the subject of which is the Self, or oneself. All Expressionist art is subjective, in which is shown the inner self of the artist. As you can see Gollon's self portraits are not a photographic likeness, but simply Gollon working with himself, his own ego and a mirror. This is not an exercise in vanity either; but along with artists of varying styles such as Max Beckmann and Rembrandt, it is an interest in and an attempt to see one's own self or soul. Moreover, as Sister Wendy Beckett notes (in her excellent book on Beckmann & The Self), when great artists do penetrate to see their souls, it helps us see our own.
Many of Gollon's recent self portraits are quite startling, giving the sense of the artist suddenly walking into the room, and are full of life and tension. Because Chris is currently embarking on a major new work (not a portrait), which will be over 60ft (15m) long (more on that later in the year), he has had to clear his studio considerably. This lead to a wonderful discovery of some self portraits he had held back for himself, but since forgotten. Therefore, we are delighted that this exhibition will show self portraits from age 20 through to age 60, along with other figurative works. Not only will the spectator be able to see the ageing process in action, but also the changes in style and technique by this extraordinary artistic talent over a long span of time. In the 1970s, for example, Gollon decided against taking the road of Freud and Auerbach in oil; but instead used acrylic mixed with detergent on unprimed duck canvas, following the American painters of the 1950s, since this technique has a matt beauty and expresses colour and form so well, and seeps unevenly into the canvas. In these early works the painter began the under-painting in yellow ochre, working from light to dark. However, in recent years he has opted to start with black gesso on acrylic primed canvases and work from dark to light, as you can see in films of him painting on his official website: chrisgollon.com. This exhibition shows the development of an artist in acrylic painting over 40 years, and to the very height of his powers, where he has totally mastered the medium and innovated it considerably, with glazing and even importing printmaking techniques.
More on Gollon's techniques can be learned from the new app for iPads: The Art of Chris Gollon.