When someone sets out to explore "space and the creation and expansion of the universe" the tool that they typically reach for is the telescope. It is through the lens of the telescope and extensive research that scientists have been able to form theories on how our universe works, and what lies beyond what we can see with our eyes. Once they are formed, many of these theories are utilized to explain the intricate workings of space, time, and nature. It's these same theories that have inspired, Oakland based artist, Chris Pew to paint incredibly intricate, multi-dimensional paintings. In the artist statement on his website he explains it like this, "My inspiration for my creations come from the world of science, specifically the sciences relating to space and the creation and expansion of the universe." He uses his art to explore the hypothetical nature of the theories and the conditions in which they exist.
Chris is currently in the middle of a two person show with Paul Urich at The Receiver Gallery in San Francisco (May 12th through June 1st), but he was able to take some time out to answer a few of our questions.
Orange Alert (OA): Your art combines two fields that typically don't come together, Art and Science, how would you explain the relationship between the two? How did Scientific Theory come to play such a major role in your creative output?
Chris Pew (CP): Well actually I'd say that science and art actually do come together quite often. There are a lot of artists out there who often combine both fields in their work. It also seems like a lot of artists are increasingly making works that are getting more complex and involve a lot of math and or engineering. As far as how "science" has become a central part of my work pretty much boils down to how scientists come up with theories. For the most part these theories can not be proven or are many years away from being proven and I simply like to create my vision of these theories.
OA: Who are some of your biggest influences artistically?
CP: Well for my work it really is the science stuff, however being a designer and a curator I do look at a lot of interesting stuff throughout the day and I'm sure bits a pieces of other peoples work wind up being influential. The other aspect of this is that since I do look at a ton of art my mind is usually pretty clouded at the end of the day, so when I begin to work on my own stuff I really do try to forget about what I've seen and focus on creating something original.
OA: What is your typically starting point for a new piece and how long does it take you to complete that piece?
CP: The general process typically begins by coming up with some scientific principal or theory to base things on, and then build upon that towards a direction to base the imagery on. Then I create a pretty loose layout for an image in photoshop, print it out, and hang on the wall. From there, depending on the surface, I'll start on a background and continue to build up surfaces till completion. This process takes about a week for medium sized painting or about 3-4 days for a good sized drawing.
OA: How has your outlook on the art community, in the Bay Area and in general, changed now that you are a curator, and not simply an artist?
CP: Its changed a lot. Being on both sides is actually pretty hard cause I'm always looking out for the artist, yet at the same time I have to be business like for the gallery. Luckily there hasn't been to many instances where the two have clashed. The art community though in San Francisco really strong, there's lots of creative folks here.
OA: Do you listen to music while you create? Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to while painting and in general?
CP: Pretty much always listening to music. Currently I'm addicted to mp3 music blogs, which is good and bad. Good because there's lots of new music to listen to, bad cause I cant remember what the hell I've been listening to cause there's so many names and I usually have the settings to shuffle.
OA: What's next for Chris Pew?
CP: I have show at Receiver Gallery May 12th, then a little break, and then focus on shows outside of San Francisco.
acrylic and pen on paper
OA: Coffee? If yes, what is your favorite type of coffee and where is your favorite coffee spot?
CP: My favorite coffee right now is El Injerto bourbon coffee, its really really good, and my favorite coffee spot is my house.
OA: What was the most unusual job that you have held while supporting your art habit?
CP: Though not very unusual I have had the same job for over ten years at a design firm, which right now seems like a very long time.
For more information on Chris Pew please visit his website.