Max Wigram

Christian Ward

06 Mar - 19 Apr 2008


Max Wigram Gallery is pleased to present its third solo show of new work by Christian Ward. Ward’s paintings occupy a space between eastern and western landscape genres, borrowing from both traditions to create an abstract sense of place.

Ward’s images, which have evolved from his own experiences of various locations, as well as from films and books, simultaneously appear both familiar and strange. Ranging from Alpine scenery to the American Southwest to mountainous regions of the Far East, it is Ward’s treatment – a disregard for traditional chiaroscuro and perspective, favouring what he refers to as a ’slipping and sliding’ - which makes the images appear ambiguous. In referencing tenth Century Chinese scroll painting and murals painted on the inner walls of a Japanese Zen temple, the work also indirectly recalls pre-renaissance representation where distortions often reveal the emotional importance attached to certain motifs. While ancient Chinese painting sought to dissolve materiality by rendering its subjects – mountains, houses, travellers, trees, waterfalls etc – as apparitions, wholly constructed by the imagination, western painting with its chiaroscuro and, subsequent use of lenses, sought to depict an experience of materiality.

Foothills, a sprawling shimmering mountainscape with patches of electric purple and green, is spread over three panels. Although the landscape recalls Sung Dynasty landscape painting, it features a small, remote community of dilapidated houses at the foot of a mountain range. This style of architecture is borrowed from the American heartland, specifically from a book tracking the steps of various 19th century outlaws who took refuge in the isolated melancholic landscapes of Utah and Colorado. Here the buildings are rendered in chiaroscuro, while the mountains which surround them, are not, creating a clash of mysticism and realism – east meets west – unified by haunting mists which hover like steam that follows from such a collision of opposites.

Island Community, the most colourful of Ward’s recent landscape paintings, features mountainous landmasses linked by rainbow-hued bodies of water and dotted with traditional Americana architecture. Amongst these buildings is depicted Edward Hoppers studio. Island Community most clearly features ’holes’ and ’suns’ or light sources - recurring motifs in Ward’s work. In opposition to one another - a hole symbolizes a void, nothingness, whereas a sun represents energy and light – the two forces join to create a metaphysical presence.

Christian Ward (b. 1977, Noda, JP) lives and works in London. This year Ward will participate in INSIDEOUT at Gallery Moriarty, Madrid (Spain) and Imaginary Realities at Max Wigram Gallery, London. Last year Ward had a solo show at Patricia Low Contemporary, Gstaad (Switzerland). In 2005 he exhibited in Ideal Worlds at the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt a/M (Germany) and Faltering Flames at Graves Gallery, Sheffield (UK).

Tags: Sung