This Wonderful World Void of Meaning | What's the Point? by Sebastian Chaumeton
London-based artist Sebastian Chaumeton will hold his first solo exhibition in Japan at the Whitestone Ginza New Gallery. Chaumeton has presented his works using various media including ceramics, painting, and video installation. His exhibition titled "What's the point?" incorporates the fundamental nature of humanity and the relationship with the vast information platform of the internet into his works.
The Visual Language of Painting and the Internet
In this exhibition, the artist, who has previously expressed a sense of weariness towards the consequences of rapid technological progress, tackles the issue of the proliferation of information and images in contemporary society. Their new pursuit is to explore the visual language of the internet through painting.
The works on display feature a plethora of motifs taken from manga, anime, games, and films. The memes caught between art history and contemporary culture are modern still-life paintings that reflect the internet age, where information overflows.
- What’s the point of what’s the point?
Chaumeton: I wanted to create a show void of meaning, reflective of the over saturated world wide web of images and information. I'm cutting and pasting seemingly unrelated subjects and matter onto the canvas to encourage the viewers to create their own new meanings by connecting the dots that I’ve put forward and draw from these points of references that they may or may not have even known about.
Sebastian Chaumeton，"What's The Point?", 2023,152.5×152.5×4cm, Acrylic on canvas
- What do you mean by a “canvas to allow the viewer to create new meanings”?
Chaumeton: Some of the paintings draw on art historical references. For example "What's The Point?”, I've merged Henri Matisse’s “Dance” with a nostalgic late 1960s Spider-Man meme. As the show is trying to be void of meaning, much like the bottomless visual pit that is the internet, I combined these two elements primarily on a compositional basis. Within the Spider-Man internet reference many web slingers are pointing at one another in a circle so it popped into my head when I was thinking about the title of the show.
Touch, Touch, Touch, Canvas!
- The works in this exhibition are quite different in style from your previous paintings.
Chaumeton: I used the very hands on process of finger painting! Not only to contrast against the digital aesthetics at play but to put into painting practice an all too familiar action we all use when interacting with touch screens. By physically pressing in each dot of color I can create form as if rendering a pixelated image.
- How did you choose the subject of your references?
Chaumeton: I primarily pulled points of reference from internet culture. As the internet is a global and digital space I was thinking about how eastern and western pop culture have become woven together in the World Wide Web. Having said that, the objects and characters will still have a subconscious association to my biases and preferences with online imagery, hence why you see a lot of Ghibli beside some childhood cartoon classics of mine.
Art and Dance for Sebastian Chaumeton
Sebastian Chaumeton, who satirizes art and contemporary society with abundant playfulness and has a feature of expressing himself without limiting himself to any medium. After obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Chelsea College of Art in London, he has held many exhibitions internationally.
- What inspired you to become an artist?
Chaumeton: I wouldn’t say there was a specific lightbulb moment of “I want to be an artist”. I could say that I was always drawing as a kid and that natural nack was nourished by a supportive family, which built up a creative confidence to eventually carve out a career… but honestly I just love making art and I feel extremely fortunate that what I get to do has a job title!
- Do you have any rules or routines when creating?
Chaumeton: I am a creature of habit when it comes to creating. Consistency is key. I normally work a six day week from 10:00 - 7:00 often extending it if I get into a groove. My studio must be clean before I start new works. A clean studio cleans the clutter from my cranium and allows lots of ideas to move in and out freely without disruption.
Another “rule” revolves around play and it’s importance in discovering new techniques and concepts. I often create boundaries around this play with which to bounce off and sometimes break. An afternoon dance break helps loosen me up for an evening of work not to mention a couple cups of coffee a day…
Chaumeton at his studio working on his latest works through finger painting technique to the canvas.
Playing with New Mediums
As the artist is based in London, his main field of activity is in the UK, but in 2021 he achieved his first solo exhibition in Asia (Little Movements, Taipei), which led to his first solo exhibition in Japan this time.
- This is your first solo exhibition in Japan. What is the significance of having a solo exhibition here?
Chaumeton: Tokyo is especially important to me as it is where I first met Koei san (Whitestone CEO) back in January 2020 in the very gallery space this show is about to take place in. Since that meeting I’ve been blessed by Whitestone with multiple shows and art fairs. It feels quite sentimental for me having come full circle from imagining my work in the windows of Whitestone to coming out to see them myself! Japan also has an amazing culture surrounding art both historically and currently that is a joy to work beside.
- What are your future endeavors?
Chaumeton: The finger painting technique I used in this show is a process with many potential branches of exploration. Both in it’s digital aesthetic and how we see colour. The pixelation qualities of the dots really lend themselves to very expansive works so I’d love to go even bigger! I also really want to continue making ceramics and pushing the boundaries of moving sculptures. I’ll probably end up playing in both mediums.
Familiar characters stare back at us in a different appearance, causing great confusion about what we are seeking from the world. Ultimately, whether we are aware of the information or images flooding modern society, it has little effect on the act of living itself. Nevertheless, we cannot help but dive into the raging sea of the internet and swim in it.
"What's the point?" by Chaumeton begins April 14th until May 6th. Explore the exhibition as the artist brings us on a trip through the ethernet dialogue by visiting Whitestone Ginza New Gallery and through our exhibitions page.
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