19th September 2016 // press release // Source: Luxury London // James Nicholls
As their first collaborative exhibition opens at Maddox Gallery in Mayfair, British artists Chris Moon and Robi Walters reflect on their work and friendship
Disseverance at Maddox Gallery is a new body of work inspired by the subject of seasonal change, or so reads the press release. “It actually has nothing to do with that,” laughs Moon. “It was really just a metaphorical excuse to start the project. This work is more human; it’s about human nature, not nature.”
There goes my first few questions then, but no matter – because an interview with Chris Moon and Robi Walters is like watching a zealous conversation between two good friends, which is exactly what they are. I meet the duo in Walters’ Soho studio; a former soup shop-turned creative trove, adorned with his kaleidoscopic collages, created using recycled and discarded paper and household packaging.
A self-confessed magpie, Walters paints over old club night and jazz bar flyers, vinyl records and reclaimed wood. The spirit of London dances beneath his large-scale collages; little snippets of the city, inspired by pop art and arte povera movements. Walters’ work is mesmerising, often playful, but never without depth. His colours are inspired by chakras – a spinning wheel of energy referenced within meditation as the spiritual centre of the body, depicted as a lotus flower.
Considering the nature of his work, Walters’ studio it’s remarkably tidy – Moon confesses his is a “shit-tip”. Indeed, on first impressions they are yin and yang: Moon’s paint-splashed, dark denims and T-shirt versus Walter’s neatly illustrated, white uniform; his linear, abstract paintings in contrast to Walters’ controlled collages.
But flip the coin, and it’s a natural fit. Both are self-taught and considered two of Britain’s greatest emerging contemporary artists, heavily influenced by nature and revered for their innovative and influential exploration of colour, mood and medium.
“We have a similar attitude and approach to what we are doing,” confirms Walters. “We have been speaking daily, often several times a day. That is the basis of this collaboration, the talking. It brings it back to kids with crayons; we get very excited and I think that’s so important in terms of producing really good work.”
And somehow, perhaps through all this talking, unexpected crossovers have taken place; coinciding architectural lines, neon stripes and hypnotic intensity. Moon has been using old paintings as the canvas for new work, echoing Walters’ mantra for reappropriation.
“You can see all the scars and details of old paintings,” he explains. “Some of the colours could be seen as pretty, but there is always an edge. I wanted to get back to basics: light versus dark, colour versus shadow. It’s about indecision, grasping, breaking up, breaking down. It is uncomfortable.” The result is a series of abstract, emotive paintings derived from sketches of Epping Forest. Deep and distinctive, they suck you in with captivating vigour. These are woods, but not as you know them.
“It’s about human nature, not nature” – Chris Moon
Moon has spent several months working from a barn in Devon. “I escaped London as I thought London was doing my head in, but it wasn’t – turns out it was my own head.” He is remarkably modest given his impressive oeuvre, which has attracted fans including Michael Fassbender, Gemma Arterton and Sir Paul McCartney. Daily surfing in Devon has permeated his work: there is a dreamy ambience in parts; a wistful, cinematic colour wash, reminiscent of Bruce Brown’s 1966 The Endless Summer.
This collaborative exhibition marks the beginning of a creative partnership between both artists. “This is a beautiful first step in our working relationship,” summarises Moon. “This is the start of the journey.”
Disseverance runs 16-30 September; 9 Maddox Street, Mayfair, W1S 2QE, 020 7870 7622, www.maddoxgallery.co.uk
Article by MHAIRI GRAHAM