SEBASTIAN CHAUMETON: Little Movements
August 18, 2021
“At a deeper level of the exhibition cake, beneath this attention grabbing frosting of recognisable ‘Mr Men’ motifs, is the dense, silent conversation between the movements. I’m anthropomorphising them as if they have autonomy because in reality they do.”
- Sebastian Chaumeton
Inspired by the British children's literature Mr. Men and Little Miss, Chaumeton personifies art movements as individual characters, including Little Miss Pointillism and Mr. Surreal, reflecting the relationship between art movements and their influences on pop culture.
Sebastian's work tries its best to make social commentary on the issues of today. Through the lens of memes and internet culture, armed with whimsical magic realism, his paintings touch on various ideas from trolls, tweets and triggers to materiality, masculinity and morals. The backbone of most of his work revolves around context and its dilution in an oversaturated world of information and images. He plays with context and enjoys subverting meaning in unnecessary convoluted metaphors and memes. In doing so, Chaumeton highlights the viewers' predisposed prejudices and assumptions of images they are confronted with.
Why do we paint? Why am I painting? What do paintings do today and what will they become? What makes a great painting? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? These questions tumble around in my mind when I sit down in front of a blank piece of canvas or paper.
As my attention drifts from my mind to my hand these thoughts also fade into nothing. I think it was Philip Guston who once said that, there are a lot of people in the studio with you - “teachers, friends, painters from history, critics… and one by one they walk out. And if you are really painting YOU walk out”. I love that quote. It strikes a cord in me that makes my brush hairs stand on end. It suggests I'm not even there when I’m making art. It’s true! Everything that makes up “me” is aligned in the direction of creating that from my minds eyes’ perspective, there’s nothing there but the painting. It’s like I’m watching it paint itself.
I often contemplate where I sit in the vast history of artistic styles, movements and pioneers of painting. Obviously I’m a spec of insignificant dust that lives on a hair of the modern art mouse that lives in the pocket of the giant that is art history. But It’s a humbling thought experiment. Overwhelming of course. But inspiring too.
I’ve been reflecting on my subconscious idea of what I think painting “should” be. Clearly there’s a “western” bias to my preconceptions, as well as a thick helping of humour on top. But “Little Movements” is more than an observation of the giants I think I stand on. At a deeper level of the exhibition cake, beneath this attention grabbing frosting of recognisable “Mr Men” motifs, is the dense, silent conversation between the movements. I’m anthropomorphising them as if they have autonomy because in reality they do. They speak and converse with one another over time. Sometimes whispering… sometimes shouting! But always talking. If you look close enough you just might hear. If you listen you just might see.
I guess that’s why they’re called art MOVEments? They're alive and in motion with us. Living, breathing, speaking matter that influences and mirrors us, all whilst giving birth to new ideas. They reflect our collective conscious. I think that’s why we hold certain paintings above the rest. Perhaps they step that little bit closer to something fundamental about our shared “truth”. Daring to answer the BIG questions like what’s the meaning of it all? Bit existential I know for paint splattered across a canvas … I’m not sure the medium really matters too.
Beside arrogantly giving myself the opportunity to flex new technical muscles, the exploration of differing styles in this show has taught me something important. My undivided presence seems to proceeds my technical process. That’s not to say technique isn't important, it can certainly refine your artistic voice, but being in the moment speaks volumes to this collective frequency of “truth”. When you are truly present with a painting you “walk out” and leave it harmonising with everything before and after it.
These “honest” paintings, whatever I think I mean by that, can both reflect on the past and present whilst simultaneously revealing something of our shared future. I think they speak to you whether you’re paying attention or not. It’s like the tree falling in the forest analogy but it doesn't matter if you can’t hear it because it’s always falling. The rhythm of it will forever echo out just as much as it echoes back into the forest. You’ll dance to the beat regardless of whether you hear it because you’ll feel the vibrations in your feet. It will move you in ways you don’t understand. I’m not sure I want to understand.
Guess I’ll just keep dancing…
Born in 1996 in London, United Kingdom
Lives and works in London, United Kingdom
Sebastian Chaumeton obtained a BA Fine Art from the Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London. His multi-layered works address issues surrounding the oversaturation of information and images in modern society whilst also conveying a weariness about the consequences of technology’s rapid advancements.
The artist experiments with several mediums, including ceramics, paintings and video installation. He has already exhibited globally, with exhibitions at Maddox Gallery in London and Whitestone in Hong Kong and Taipei. Collaborating with renowned brands including Laurent Perrier, Pizza Pilgrims and P&O Ferries, the immediate success of Chaumeton proves that this artist is here to stay.
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