Christopher Thompson continues his investigation into the intimate, discrete scenario in this new series of small paintings. These portraits are character studies, some of which quote art historical precedents, referencing artists such as Vermeer and Velázquez. Alone and self contained, the protagonists appear in a closed and contemplative state, selfabsorbed and caught at a moment of pause and possible reflection.
The artist uses a classical technique of representational painting, which pays particular attention to expressing tone to define form. He uses a richly sombre palette of red and ochre earth colours to convey the materiality of flesh, which he deploys against strong, dark shadow, in a ‘chiaroscuro’ manner, to create atmosphere. His use of colour echoes his enthusiasm for the great painters of the past, paying homage to Dutch, Venetian and Spanish masters.
Immediately recognisable as contemporary, his subjects share a commonality with the older ‘unknowns’ of the art historical canon. Not famous, almost prosaic, ‘everyman’ characters they may be, nevertheless they are also the elemental ‘stuff’ of observational painting. The servants, models and bystanders of the art process, who are inveigled into, paid for or flattered into sitting for the artist, who sometimes become immortalised. In these pictures the humble are made noble in a modern-day elevation. Thompson seems to be saying, “these people are worthy of note, whoever they are”. He deliberately singles them out, makes the connection with the past and delivers them for our inspection.