Can You Feel My Bones? An Interview with Artist Chris Peters

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Having originally found Chris Peters artwork through a posting from @41Strange on Twitter, I assumed that his art was simply dumb memes on the internet — just another part of abstract content. But delving deeper into his work, I discovered that this was a genuine artist with incredible skill. Composing his CV and presenting his pieces as a sort of limbo, his subjects (majority of them skeletons in his painting work) are seen doing the mundane – chilling on the couch, in the kitchen.

In Chris’ bio on his website, he says: “The objects in my paintings draw from the classic symbolism of Vanitas still life and Catholic religious paintings; all refer to the cycle of life, death, and the promise of resurrection”.

FinalBoss put on their skeleton/tux shirt and found out more.

FinalBoss: How would you describe your work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

Chris Peters: My current works are dark, mysterious landscape paintings, devoid of any evidence of human or animal habitation.

Los Angeles by Chris Peters exclusive interview
Los Angeles by Chris Peters

FB: So… skeletons.

CP: I love skeletons. When everyone in art school was painting baskets of apples, I was painting skulls.

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FB: Have you ever seen a skeleton in the flesh, so to speak?

CP: No, but a doctor friend invited me to a brain dissection. Unfortunately I arrived at the medical examiner’s office too early and there were 3 autopsies in progress. They quickly closed the curtains, but not before I saw things that were pretty hard to un-see. Yowza.

Grace by chris peters artist exclusive interview

FB: Does your process use actual models (which you’ll use as a basis and then work out how their skeleton would look from that) or do you start from scratch?

CP: I have several anatomy books, a collection of museum quality skull reproductions, and a realistic medical skeleton.

When everyone in art school was painting baskets of apples, I was painting skulls.

FB: Does your work fear death, or embrace it? You show your skeleton subjects with a sense of life, even amongst the mundane – it’s purposely very contradictory.

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CP: I think what you’re seeing are my own contradictions. It’s my attempt at coming to terms with the inevitable.

FB: What’s your favourite part of the human body? Why?

CP: The eyes are the windows to the soul, but here is a pro-tip: If you want to see if someone is a great painter look at the hands, they’re much more complicated than they appear!

FB: Does your art take inspiration from any other artists? It’s quite morbid, but more playful than, say, Francis Bacon for example.

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CP: I am very interested in the world of light versus the world of dark. In art school we were taught that you don’t paint objects, you paint the way light falls on objects. I am inspired by the great Spanish painters like Francisco de Zurbarán and Jusepe de Ribera.  The light and dark IS the painting.

I think what you’re seeing are my own contradictions.  It’s my attempt at coming to terms with the inevitable.

FB: You also direct for film. Can you tell me about that? Is this something that you’d plan on doing full time, or simply something in addition to painting?

CP: I love making movies and it’s a great way to invoke a mood, but right now what I want to express is best done with paint. It’s always the same story though. If you do want to make movies Los Angeles is a great place – there is a lot of resources and support in place and it is so much fun.

FB: How do you feel that a lot of your fans have discovered your work through internet memes?

CP: Of course I consider it a great honour. Art is a conversation and I love that it connects with people.

Stranger in the Mirror by chris peters exclusive interview
Stranger in the Mirror

FB: Where’s the human race heading?

CP: Towards greatness.

Chris Peters can be followed on Instagram at @ChrisPetersArt, and at his official site.

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