By Brittany Ward
Nov. 15, 2018
November’s First Friday has come and gone, December is on the horizon but this is an artist that is constantly creating and putting up new work that you don’t want to miss: Christian Jo Gauthier. You can find him and his work in Parrish Studios, specifically The Aliens studio where he is a part owner.
Gauthier lives and breathes art, quite literally. Since he was young, he was always drawing but it wasn’t until high school that he begun taking it seriously when he honed in on his love for abstract using charcoal and oil paint.
“I’ve always had a real love for line,” he said. “There can be so much power in a single line and a lot of my early abstracts dealt almost entirely with exploring line while trying to develop a sense of depth, a sense of space in the background.”
His senior year in high school was when he went out to farms, photographed cows and basically painted only cows. This is the same year he got his first studio in Parrish, the small one at the top of the stairs by A Novel Idea. There, he essentially lived out the studio and survived off of selling his charcoal drawings as well as getting featured in the magazine Art Move.
Though Gauthier has primarily worked with oil paint, for about two years, charcoal, oil and soft pastel have been his medium, occasionally spray paint but really anything he can get his hands on.
“I try not to get too comfortable with any one medium. I try to throw myself off constantly. Sometimes that means exploring new subject matter or going back and forth between the abstract and representational but changing up my medium is always a guaranteed way to for hit the reset button,” said Gauthier. “I think this is important for me because I’ve never had formal art training of any kind and it’s a way to make sure I’m always learning and relearning. Forcing myself to find my balance. You can create a masterpiece with a stick is you learn how to finesse it.”
Switching mediums helps Gauthier stay true to himself as an artist and to not get lost in “coping” previous pieces, which would result in it losing what made it powerful in the first place. Much like the mediums he uses, his creative process and aesthetic change with him, always challenging himself and learn more.
“I will say it’s interesting to see the way new thought and series start. Sometimes I’m going along with a certain process I’ve been exploring on and off for weeks, months, even years,” said Gauthier. “I’ll change one little detail just to see what happens,or even on accident, and it will lead to an entire new body of work.”
Despite his work and exploration into new mediums and techniques, his obsession with the line is always present. Gauthier believes there is something to be said about forcing yourself to grow as an artist, do what’s uncomfortable and learn. However, it’s also important to trust yourself and what makes one happy while creating.
“If something has the power to keep you coming back on the days that your feel like a talentless POS that’s worth more money than anyone is ever going to give you for it,” he said. “I’ve turned down $1000 for drawings I’ve done in 5 minutes and things I’ve spent hours on for a couple hundred. I’ve had years to think about it and I still wouldn’t take the money.”
Each piece is different and unique in technique, time it took to create, lessons learned while creating, and the feeling that came out while making it. What you see on the walls in The Aliens may be one dog or figure but what is almost never seen is the hundreds of dogs and figures that are on the floor of his apartment. The time spent getting the technique right, the physical demand it takes to cut it out on the heavy duty archival tag board and maintain the integrity of his line work.
A newer project that came about seven months ago are his T-shirts. Gauthier explored screen printing and created his first successful print in the bathtub. Printing has become a new love for him as he is a little resistant to sell his original pieces. This allows him to share his work with people and make them happy but also be able to keep the originals for him to continue learning from.
On December 15 at Outrspaces, Gauthier will be showing his work as well as at Jake’s sometime in the future. Until then you can find Gauthier and his work in The Aliens and on Instagram or Facebook. There has been a recent change in his Instagram name as he doesn’t even like Doritos and poodles are more him anyway.
Brittany Ward is a multimedia intern with KZUM.