Words by Mr Benjamin Seidler
Walking into a generic West London coffee shop, I spot Mr Charlie Anderson immediately, despite only ever seeing his street-inspired paintings and not the man himself. He simply looks like his work. He laughs when I point this out. "There's a preconceived idea that an artist will look slightly hippyish, and I react against that. I want my paintings to look how I look, and vice versa. The whole process of painting is extremely physical and there's tons of moving around and lifting buckets of paint - so there's a tough feeling to my clothes and to my work."
"Tough" is an apt description of Mr Anderson's style. He is dressed in a beat-up leather jacket over a paint-stained white T-shirt and pale, worn-in jeans. Blond and with a chiselled face, the 25-year-old exudes cool in that way only artists can - evoking something that is both salt-of-the-earth and cerebral at the same time. His paintings bestow a similar impression, the result of a laboured, craft-intensive technique that looks like papered and plastered city walls.
Inspired by Mr Sigmar Polke, "Who used to take imagery from all over the place, draw it, screen print it and paint it up in layers," Mr Anderson sees his paintings "as a statement about my life and times. They are a combination of photorealism and urban pop art, using a street art aesthetic but manipulating it. Then I fabricate images, too, in a way that can be surrealist."
Trained in Edinburgh, Mr Anderson took a while to find his way. "I always wanted to be someone who was strictly a painter," he reveals. "When I was at college, a lot of the focus was put on conceptual art, but I wanted to go in a different direction. I was chucked out a few times but always made my way back. It was in my fourth year that I got into it, because I was left to my own devices and felt free to do my own thing and experiment."
the artist at work
a startling expose
"A Startling Expose" was inspired by access to public information and privacy issues, and was painted with stencils and silk screens building up layer upon layer of imagery
"Animal Source" examines Edinburgh's political, musical and council campaigns plastered around the city on photocopied paper. Mr Anderson used house paint and acrylics to paint the imagery, which served to reflect the low quality print techniques of these campaigns
"City Spinners" was inspired by the social and political campaigns in Edinburgh. "This painting formed a social documentation for me, and it was interesting to fragment the words and images until they almost created a new meaning," says Mr Anderson
This experimentation led to "Pieces that are almost three-dimensional, as they have 20 layers of paint on them," which have won Mr Anderson several awards, including the Royal Scottish Academy Meyer Oppenheim Prize and a place on the Jerwood Contemporary Painting Prize short list.
All this success, however, is the result of intensive, often exhausting days in the studio, says Mr Anderson. "If I'm putting together a show," he explains, "I'll start by walking around a city and documenting everything I see to get a sense of the fabric of the city. Then I'll draw up stencils and screens, layer the imagery and juxtapose advertising and political posters to get a sense of what I want my composition to be. Sometimes I'll invent campaigns and posters as a response to the society, so it's a mix of myself and the world. Then putting it all together and painting it will take days in the studio."
Next month, Mr Anderson is moving to a studio in Malibu, Los Angeles to prepare for an exhibit in which he is taking part there. Surely, then, with openings and champagne receptions, there's some glamour to be had after all the grit? "Dressing up isn't usually my thing," he admits, "but I recently bought my first Paul Smith suit. The lining has a black and white abstract pattern and it made me think of the black spray paint and the white house paint I use. Paul Smith, for me, really gives that English pop vibe, and that appeals to me. I could imagine working in the studio in it with my sleeves rolled up, like Jean-Michel Basquiat."
Mr Anderson will be exhibiting new work at the Fabien Castanier Gallery, Los Angeles from 7 April. castaniergallery.com
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