Innovations in Still Life


In her biography Chris Gollon: Humanity in Art  art historian Tamsin Pickeral devotes a chapter to his innovative still life, pointing out:  “Gollon’s still life convey a heightened sense of animation, of perceptible drama and emotional consequences more familiarly seen in figurative works.” She also remarks that this crossing the boundaries of genre, or indeed blurring the lines between genres, is a great strength in the artist’s work.

“Gollon’s unique redefinition of painting genres to suit his own end is achieved with striking simplicity through his application of a consistent and unifying ideology. This singular approach, which underpins all his work is based on his perception of emotive forces in all aspects of his world. As such the artist sees individual identities and dramas in inanimate objects such as pots, wine glasses or musical instruments….”.

Chris Gollon is mainly known as an extraordinarily imaginative painter of the human figure and of human dramas. However, he is equally innovative in the genre of still life. Gollon’s still life retain an essence of humanity, the objects he paints strangely seem to represent human dramas or interactions. The shadows are deliberately painted wrongly, which then animates the objects. Without going anywhere near Walt Disney, with great subtlety, Gollon’s glasses of wine nonetheless seem plunged into conversations or embraces, morsels of cheese or bottles of wine seem to be either spectators or an unsettling or chastening presence beside the chattering or smooching glasses. These effects are very subtle, with the objects in an undefined space somewhere between an interior and a landscape, lending them a curious air of mystery, which then leads the viewer to a human drama beyond the canvas.

Some artists have been accused of flatness when using acrylic paints, but Chris Gollon finds a way of using Old Master techniques of very fine washes and glazes, combined with the use of a printmaker’s roller, reverse techniques derived from monotypes and other new methods to give movement, life and voluminous effects.