Christopher Jewitt is most creative when he’s just dozing off to sleep. Under the blanket of darkness people and places become shapes and lines swimming in endless patterns.
Subsequently, Christopher’s work has an unwavering and captivating aesthetic. Yet these works are more than just a celebration of colour and pattern: they’re a celebration of life itself, a “sumptuous feast for the eyes” as Christopher likes to say.
Like a Where’s Wally puzzle, figures emerge and disappear before your eyes, which is as frustrating as it is captivating. Central to this Melbourne-based artist’s practice is the process of mark and image making. The physical nature of this process quickly drew his attention away from commercial photography, which he was studying at the time, towards an interest in Old Master oil paintings.
Today his works have the familiar layered tactility of traditional oil painting with a contemporary fanciful edge. He fills his large-scale canvases with the traces of his hand, his muscle fibres twitching and elongating in response to his experience of everyday life. For Christopher, people and everyday objects are an endless source of inspiration. How people interact and participate with the objects and places in their lives take form in his works to reveal themselves as an infinite pattern of movement, action and reaction.
The dissection of his subjects into pure line and pattern allows the artist to rearrange his daily life into an infinite number of combinations. For him, his work expresses a form of social commentary. “The different psychologies and philosophies of people and places is fantastic to learn about,” he tells me. “I begin by drawing a story that takes the aesthetic of an ancient hieroglyph, then pattern making and expressive line takes over to finish with a playful synergy between abstract and figurative styles.”
His works are busy and seemingly haphazard, yet his process is meditative and thought out at every step. “I selectively choose my colour palette,” he says. “I start off with acrylic markers to build up the characters and the story. I’ll then add in oil sticks and oil paint straight from the tube on a paint brush.”
While Christopher’s work is peppered with visual narratives of tragedy or celebration, he acknowledges the aesthetic charm of his work. “From a commercial viewpoint, most people like my work for their abstract nature,” he says. With zigzags layered upon swirls and lines overlapping dots, Christopher’s work creates a false sense of stability: the moment we find ourselves, we are instantly lost again.