Christopher Clamp is an artist we have been following for a while. As one of the best realist painters in Charlotte, we find his portraits of nostalgic objects charming and insightful. He will open a solo exhibition at Jerald Melberg Gallery (his first since 2013) this weekend and will be showing completely new work, which we are previewing for you in our interview with him below. Take a moment to get to know this talented artist.HappeningsCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
Christopher Clamp: Patient. Introspective. Helpful.
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist?
CC: When I was very young, I was always drawing. Growing up in a rural area, not surrounded by many other kids, there was not much else to do. I spent many hours drawing comics and cartoon characters. My parents were very supportive, and that really made me feel motivated to continue. When I was a junior or senior in high school, there was a juried art competition that was hosted by the local electric provider in Lexington, SC. I submitted a drawing of my grandfather from when visited him at the nursing home and won the local and regional competition. At that point, I really felt a voice starting to awaken within me, and I decided that I was going to pursue an education in the arts.HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
CC: Many things inspire me. My parents and their hard work inspire me. They are very genuine and supportive, and that inspires me to strive to be better. I am very inspired by many artists as well: Antonio Lopez Garcia, Scott Fraser, Odd Nerdrum, Linden Frederick, and the artists of the Northern Renaissance, Jan Van Eyck especially.
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
CC: The recent paintings are exploring the idea of connection or re-connection. Many of the objects I have painted are items from my childhood, or things I have found in my grandfather’s barn. These objects have an obvious nostalgia for me, but also serve as a way to connect to others. Many have told me that the paintings reconnect them with thoughts and feelings once forgotten. I am continuing to explore the object as a conveyor of a story or a mood. Many of the paintings are small scale, and have a simple composition, focusing on the object and its form. Some of the paintings are larger, and have a more complex composition. My subjects and compositions are built around the ideas of protection and gender, and how they are affected by elements of current events.HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
CC: The Carolinas have so much to offer for the arts, and I could name a very long list. However, at the same time, the Carolinas have so many talented artists, and passionate supporters of the arts. I have found that the most valuable art experiences in the Carolinas right now are my interactions with these individuals. Visiting other artists, and discussing their work, or attending an exhibition and connecting with others passionate about the arts in our area.
Also, make the drive to Rock Hill and experience the creativity that is alive at the Winthrop University Department of the Arts.
HCLT: What is your number one art piece/place/event in this area?
CC: I love going to the NC Museum of Art. Their collection is incredible, and they organize amazing exhibitions. Focusing on Charlotte, I would have to say the McColl Center and Goodyears Arts are doing amazing things in our community.HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
CC: Several, but the book that is most inspiring is titled “Gluck: her biography,” by Diana Souhami. Gluck (1895-1978) was an painter that worked in England, and had a very inspiring life.
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte area?
CC: My wife and I don’t eat out as much as we used to. We love going to Ben Thanh in Matthews. However, the best meal is usually take-out from Red Bowl Matthews, sitting around the house with our cats.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
CC: Jerald Melberg Gallery. The exhibition opens Friday, September 15, and will run though the end of October. My studio is also at the Dilworth Artisan Station. Visit me sometime when I am there.
HCLT: What is up next?
CC: I am going to continue to try to improve my handling of paint, and explore the paintings with more of a narrative composition. I miss doing figurative work, so I might do a few small drawings or paintings of friends or family.
Christopher Clamp LEGO paintings are oil on panel, 3 x 5 inches each.