Our first viewing room gives an insight into Chris Gollon's work on Khadi paper.
"As I visited Chris's river island studio every two weeks in the late 1990's, I often used to buy his materials for him, since my gallery in East London was a stone's throw from Brick Lane where Atlantis, one of the biggest art materials stores in Europe, was then based.
One day they happened to have a big display of Khadi paper, an Indian acid-free cotton rag paper. An ancient practice in India, it is a rough hand-made paper with fabulous texture, and it even came in many different colours. So I bought Chris a few sheets, and he really took to it.”
David Tregunna, Director, IAP Fine Art
All the above works are reproduced in art historian Tamsin Pickeral’s excellent book on Chris Gollon’s life and work Humanity in Art. As with everything Chris Gollon touched in terms of painting or printmaking, he was always quick to absorb existing practices and then take them somewhere new, developing his own innovations. In ‘Head’ he delights in making the image seem like some ancient fragment of a painting from another time, helped by the ragged texture of the paper and the fact he does not paint straight edges, yet this woman has a modern consciousness. Using Khadi paper, he could immediately see the various effects this rough ancient paper could give him.
With the ‘Flute Player’, he applies the paint much thinner so there is deliberate paint shrinkage, giving this work the look of an ancient mural, as if it is slightly flaking in parts. Yet with a modern twist, he paints his signature at a short remove.
“Chris and I would often talk about the books of Hermann Hesse, in particular Steppenwolf, Klingsor’s Last Summer, and the collection of short stories Strange News From Another Star. In the latter, which Chris recommended I read, in two of the stories Hesse subverts our notion of time, with a mysterious and hypnotic flute player pulling us away like the Pied Piper, into a dreamlike world of the subconscious or of magic, where anything can happen. This always appealed to Chris, and he often used mysterious flute players in his paintings, hinting at alternative realities. Not unlike Hesse, Chris Gollon’s imaginative paintings continue to subvert conventional thinking and our notions of what is real.”
In the third painting At Le Bal (II), we see Chris Gollon’s interest in both film and music. Ettore Scola’s award-winning film without dialogue Le Bal inspired a whole series of paintings 2006-2007. The film charts six decades inside the same Parisian dance hall, up until the 1970s. Brilliantly choreographed, with the same characters, who never age, but the times, dances and fashions and politics change, and loves are lost and won. Gollon was very taken with this visually beautiful spectacle, strewn with broken hearts, sensuality, and an array of human hubris and foibles. In this work, he applies the paint very thickly, building up layers as he would on canvas, creating wonderful matt, creamy flesh tones. Yet the incredible texture of this stiff hand-made rag paper remains. This sheet was black, which meant Chris Gollon could dispense with his usual practice of making the image first in grisaille, using black paint, since half the work was done by the paper.
I remembered how beautiful the texture is. Less is more is the motive here. One must let the paper do most of the work. The result makes them very alive." Chris Gollon, 2016
The advantage of all works on paper, whether Khadi rag paper or standard fine art papers, is twofold.
Firstly, a sheet of paper is inexpensive, so artists can take huge risks on them, and if it goes wrong, they don’t waste a £100 canvas. Secondly, leaving unpainted areas seems to matter less than on canvas, since the background even if unpainted still seems to recede into an infinite distance.
In 2016, Chris Gollon returned to Khadi paper, supplied this time by Curtis Ward, who kindly sourced many of his materials. This series of small paintings in acrylic on Khadi paper were all painted in the last year of his life, with some being studies in his last great series of works ‘Gimme Some Wine’ (seen above and below). As he began the series he observed: "This new set of heads and still life is painted on Khadi paper. From the first, I remembered how beautiful the texture is. Less is more is the motive here. One must let the paper do most of the work. The result makes them very alive." Chris Gollon, 2016
IAP Fine Art holds Chris Gollon’s artist’s estate, and below is a small selection of the available works we hold on Khadi paper. Please contact us for further details.
Potential purchasers are very welcome to view works in Monmouth or our Viewing Room in London E1.
With our Covid-19 safety measures in place, and masks worn, viewings are by appointment.
Chris Gollon (1953 - 2017) has been represented by IAP Fine Art since 1993. Born in London, as well as substantial critical acclaim, he enjoyed many solo museum exhibitions in the UK, and major museum acquisitions including the British Museum.
Following his untimely death in 2017, critical acclaim continues, with several books published featuring his work and a museum retrospective of his music-related works. Eleanor McEvoy – with whom Chris Gollon enjoyed a two-year exercise in artistic boundary crossing 2015-2017 – launches a new album in 2021, entitled 'Gimme Some Wine'. The title track is a song she wrote inspired by Chris Gollon's work, which she dedicated to him. The album launch also coincides with the release of a short film charting the Gollon/McEvoy artistic collaboration and is the story of the song.
For more information on Chris Gollon, click: here.