This week’s Dan’s Papers cover by Christopher Winter is certainly striking, not only because it’s a figurative image but also because we can’t quite place it in a particular time or location (although its title is “Jungle.”) It may remind us of Peter Pan or someone who’s dressed in a Halloween costume. But is the person real or a figment of our imagination? Simply put, the figure seems surreal while also being realistic.
Many of Winter’s images can be described this way. Consider his paintings, like a bulldog that appears somewhat contorted. Then there are his drawings: an especially intriguing one features a skeleton-like configuration made of flowers. His videos are equally fascinating, particularly an animated work that starts with a pile of sand or glitter, turns into a snowman’s face and finally disintegrates, becoming raw material once more.
Born in Great Britain, Winter currently calls Berlin home, where he co-founded Special X, a fictional artist group that highlights subversive art practices. His professional pursuits also include diverse and extensive exhibitions throughout Europe and New York.
Q: “Diverse” is a good word to characterize your works, especially your style. Can you describe how and why you use certain styles?
A: Christopher Winter: My style is constantly developing, and I do tend to work in series and occasionally return to these series and expand them. I try and work in a style that conceptually fits with the content. For example, with the “Postcard” series I deliberately chose a flat, illustrative style. At the other end of the spectrum are my drawings. These are very much dictated by the medium. A pencil lends itself to doodling. The works develop unconsciously and organically. I can see how people see them as surrealistic.
I especially like your videos like “Snowman.” Here technique and style are combined. What’s the secret of your technique?
Ah, that would be telling. Let’s just say it involved a lot of silver glitter and a hairdryer. I spent months afterwards discovering glitter in my clothes, car and on my friends.
Are the themes in your videos about becoming and disappearing? Life and death?
They tend to reflect a wide range of topics that have a lot to do with time and our lives. They touch on superstitions, the invisible and the actual practical nature of making art. I have consciously tried to move away from the documentary style videos and make a move toward the moving picture as tableaux connected to time.
Speaking of themes, what’s the meaning of “Jungle,” the cover image?
The painting comes from my “Wildlife” series. My fascination for subjects of awakening and lost innocence led me to themes which were inspired by literature like The Lord of the Flies.
Why did you choose Berlin to reside in? I can see why you like the city, with its experimental art scene.
Berlin is an amazing city full of an incredibly diverse history that is evident on every street corner. The city is constantly changing and reinventing itself. It is the perfect place for making art. More and more people arrive every day to take part. That’s why I started curating, getting involved with great artists. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Besides Berlin, what artists or other art forms have influenced you?
The list is long and diverse. I have admired Caravaggio, Velazquez and Manet from afar. I’ve had a love affair with Alfred Hitchcock to a point where I am building a 15-foot-high replica of the house from Psycho out of gingerbread. The idea is to eat it at the opening in the Berlinische Galerie in March, 2013.
You can contact Christopher Winter at www.christopher-winter.co. His works can be seen at New York’s Edelman Arts, Inc., 136 E. 74th Street. 212-472-7770.