Carl Chapple, a Central Saint Martins' graduate (1988-1992), is one of London Art's finest figurative artists. During his student summers Chapple travelled extensively in Greece and Turkey. In subsequent years he visited Prague and then Florence, making studies of Classical and Renaissance paintings, drawings and sculpture. Returning to the UK in 1996, Chapple joined various South London life-drawing groups one of which bestowed a privileged opportunity to paint with another cherished London Art artist, Reg Eldridge. Chapple reflects fondly on his time spent in South London, 'Reg was very generous with his encouragement and advice, and occasionally would put down his brushes, embrace the scene, and say something like, "Look at this! Look at the light! Look at the model! Isn't this wonderful!" and remind everyone of how lucky we were to be in that moment.' Having now set up a studio in Barry, South Wales Chapple continues to paint prolifically from life.
Chapple is a serious, self-disciplined and scholarly artist. Speaking of his practice he says, 'It's something I absolutely have to do, and I feel wretched if a weekend passes without anything half-decent to show for it.' One might speculate that it was his time at St Martins that drilled a strict sense of restraint and self-motivation into Chapple, but I have my suspicions that this is an inherent characteristic, 'I decided in the late 90s to set myself some rules - I only painted on 7" x 9" hardboard panels, limited my palette to four pigments, used only hog hair brushes, made no preliminary charcoal drawing, and set a time limit of no more than 45 mins per picture. This was an effort to force some spontaneity and immediacy into my work, and find a new way of painting.' As evidenced by the remarkable exhibition of Chapple's work at London Art, it is the human figure that most inspires and enthuses his creativity, '[the human figure] is the only subject matter that completely grabs me - partly because it's often beautiful, which is inspiring; partly because there's very little room for 'error', in terms of proportions, etc, to a degree which just doesn't apply to any other subject; partly because it's readily loaded with meaning that everyone can relate to; and partly because having a person modeling for you gives the whole business a sense of urgency that you just don't have with a bowl of fruit. Also, painting is a lonely business without someone else there.'
Chapple paints exclusively from life, a pursuit that challenges artists unlike any other painting technique. He seems to absorb all the information before him and then channel those feelings from head to hand, re-creating the vision in paints on paper and capturing the essence of human form. As such, Chapple creates a new artistic language, diverging from the beaten track of nineteenth century modern art, and twentieth century postmodernism. Few artists today have the courage to reject modernist ideas, such as Realism and Primitivism as well as the ensuing Abstraction, Surrealism, Pop Art and Conceptual. Chapple's oeuvre embodies an attitude that tries to reverse such contemporary processes by tightening boundaries that make art more recognizable to the viewer.
To see Carl's gallery please click here