Rohkunstbau “Mind the Gap”, curated by Mark Gisbourne
Studio Visit with Christopher Winter
by Tiziana Destino
Titiana Destino: For Rohkunstbau “Mind the Gap” you show “Mirror World Space Collider” (Site Specific Installation 2018, Paintings, Wood Sculptures, Wallpaper, Perspex Mirrors), an installation of large and small format works, composed with mirror glasses, where each canvas is painted twice and mirrored.
Christopher Winter: “Mirror World Space Collider” relates to a desire to question our perception of reality and what it means to see, hear and feel what is around us. Whether it is an interpretation through scientific theory or a more personal artistic investigation I think all are equally valid. Science has proved that the solid world around us is in fact made up of a huge amount of matter they can’t even measure (dark matter). I find that the different theories just inspire me to interpret painting in a new way.
Titiana Destino: The fil rouge of Rohkunstbau XXIV are gaps in cultural and political contemporary scenarios in Europe. English and german artist living in Berlin, how do you interpret the current socio-political changes in Europe, particularly in relation to the UK?
Christopher Winter: I think that the divide created by Brexit cannot be ignored and makes me very angry. Of course this creeps directly and indirectly into the work. I find it important to continue to create bridges between Germany and the UK. Just after Brexit I curated an exhibition called “A New Language” and brought 25 Berlin artists to my home town of Hastings.
Titiana Destino: Talking about creating bridges between the two countries, how did your position toward UK national identity changed during the last years, having moved to Berlin?
In particular in “Ghost Flag, 2016,” you work with British, Scottish and Irish Flags. In “Anderson Planet Wallpaper, 2018”, different motifs are overlapped in a way to create a dialogue between national identities and family patterns, whose meanings you have challenged.
How do you relate to shifts in perspective between the two countries?
Christopher Winter: Inevitably it has changed. I do sometimes feel like an outsider in both countries.
Titiana Destino: In your installation you quote Murakami:
“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore.
Is the japanese writer an important reference in your work?
Christopher Winter: I think that Murakami creates worlds which are uneasy, unnatural and they can slowly become very surreal. 1Q84 was an inspiration in developing this installation. This novel develops a story about an alternate universe as does Alice Through the Looking Glass in which Alice passes through the mirror into “Wonderland”. The mirrors act like a window so it is possible as one walks around Mirror World Space Collider to see “through” the mirror to the parallel world which is painted in reverse behind it.
Titiana Destino: You achieve creating surreal worlds and parallel realities both through drawings and paintings. How do you relate to different mediums (drawing and painting)?
Also in your most recent paintings the adoption of new materials (glass and glitter-painting) contributes to your investigation on the surreal? Or it relates to a research on the matter?
Christopher Winter: I love drawing but when I have a pencil in my hand it immediately dictates to me another way of making which others might perceive as a different “style” to my painting. It allows me to let my hand doodle and ideas to develop organically. The glitter and glass is a desire to push my painting further and challenge my own preconceptions.
Titiana Destino: Moving on the idea of preconception, the work “Future Love Masks 2068 –(Universe I), 2015” represents the face of a young women, mirrored. The title refers to 2068.
Does it represent an invitation to undertaking an emotional journey into the future?
Christopher Winter: This again is a play of time, desire and feeling. Desire is an emotion which can only be fulfilled in the future and therefore requires time as it’s vehicle.
Titiana Destino: Looking through your recent and past works (among others the “Guide to Switzerland”), perception of reality is often at the center of your attention, as well the alterations of sensorial boundaries, expanded through reflections, illusions alluding to a parallel reality.
How distortion and disorientation come into play in your world? How do you relate to magic and illusory-tricks?
Christopher Winter: All my work is an exploration of our known reality. This reality can be altered by optical tricks and mind altering drugs. I was interested in the time of making “Guide to Switzerland” in Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception” and his experiments taking mescaline in the 1950’s.
Titiana Destino: There is a close similarity, in their chemical composition of mescalin and adrenalin. In some way probably the human body could be able of manufacturing a chemical (in reduced doses ) which could cause profound changes in consciousness and perception.
In particular “Midnight 00:00”, (2017, Acrylic on canvas), “Spacema 19:39”, (2017, Acrylic on canvas) and “Fairlight 11:20”, (2017, Acrylic on canvas) introduce characters floating in space, and challenging the force of gravity.
Christopher Winter: Just one word to the floating figures in the paintings. Many times they indicate a sense of being moved, of the soul being uplifted and changed. A relaxing of the laws which bind us to the earth and a feeling of liberation.
Titiana Destino: Talking about our connection to the world surrounding us, in “Half your day is Night”, (2017, Neon on Plexiglass) you explore concepts of time and light. Have you been interested in these elements in relation to their influences on human relations, or merely as natural elements?
Christopher Winter: I think that time and light plays a huge role in the work and particularly in the works relationship to recent scientific developments. I sometimes date my paintings in the past and sometimes in the future bending the viewers understanding and I use reflective light on mirrors to deceive the viewers perception, suggesting a parallel reality. Some of these ideas are derived directly from quantum physics.
Titiana Destino: Which role play day & night cycles and the rhythm of working & sleeping hours in your life? How do you relate to these cycles in your work?
Christopher Winter: In regards to “Half your day is night” I drew a parallel with the human body clock, circadian rhythms and the influence of light on the human body in a 24 hour cycle. Chemicals are released in the body during the day which influence our “feeling” for time.
Titiana Destino: In your “circadian rhythms”, light is an important element in regulating body cycles for human, animals and plants, whereas in “Acid Dawn 03:58”, (2017, Acrylic on canvas), and “Chemical Night 21:58”, (2017, Acrylic on canvas) light contributes to attaii what you defined “a sense of the sublime”.
How does light influence your recent practice; particularly in comparison to previous works (ie. in the works exhibited in “Wild Life”)?
Christopher Winter: I think the word “feeling” is important. We often talk about moments in our lives that go slower or some that just appear to go too fast. On a quantum level time does not operate as we know it. Particles can simultaneously exist in two places at once. Sometimes an amazing dawn or a night sky for example can slow us down, make us “feel” things slowly. We “make” time for it and it inspires us.
Titiana Destino: You are working between Germany and England, opening a new studio in the UK in these days. What are your upcoming projects?
Christopher Winter: I’m going to continue to push myself and explore new avenues of creative production and the materials I’m using. I’m working on some works for a solo show in March 2019 at my gallery Edelman Arts in New York.
Christopher Winter was born in Kent, United Kingdom in 1968. He lives and works in Berlin, Germany and Hastings, UK. More about the artist can be found on his artist website. An overview about the artist and his exhibitions can be found here.