Christopher Chippendale: Interview

Christopher Chippendale, View of Boston from North Point Park, 2014 (courtesy of
Christopher Chippendale, View of Boston from North Point Park, 2014 (courtesy of the artist)

Larry Groff interviews painter Christopher Chippendale.

Chippendale comments extensively on observational painting and studying with painter George Nick: "Observational painting, I learned, was not a mimetic art form. We were not in the business of copying or duplicating what was before us, but of transposing it through paint, and through the forms we each adopted as individual painters. Our goal was not to match or try to outdo what nature did best, but to interpret it through metaphors that were 'parallel' and in every way 'true' to the facts we perceived, except in being literal about them. Ideas of 'truth' in observational painting were, accordingly, not limited to ideas of 'likeness' or verisimilitude. One could be absolutely true to the richness of one’s perceptions without being literal about them, in the same way that poetry can bear witness with great precision to truths and realities that lie far outside of, and are in fact inexpressible within, the jurisdiction of the literal. I found observational painting richly full of paradoxes and contradictions, often vexingly so. Nick taught me to think more with my brush. I learned from him that making was itself a form of expressed thought, and that solutions were to be found in painting itself. Standing before the easel, considering the variables that arose in my paintings with every passing moment, I learned that it was ultimately important to act—to paint—in clear material terms, and sooner rather than later. If recklessness was the consequence, and errors and mistakes the result, then these were simply the facts and uncertainties of painting. Risk, in Nick’s view, would forever trump cautiousness, and I inferred from his approach, which I came largely to adopt myself, that being overly guarded and calculating in painting was ultimately a dishonest act."