A New Generation of Still Life Study: Chris Kettle

'Botanica' by Chris Kettle
'Botanica' by Chris Kettle

02 'My Counterpoint II' limited edition print
'My Counterpoint II' by Chris Kettle
 'Titanica' oil and varnishes
'Titanica' by Chris Kettle
'Hubris' oil and varnishes on canvas
'Hubris' by Chris Kettle
'Afterglow' oil and varnishes on canvas
'Afterglow' by Chris Kettle
The artist in his studio
The artist in his studio

Nicholas Toovey meets a Brighton-based artist handling a classic subject matter in a revolutionary new way.

Chris Kettle has spent most of his artistic career reinterpreting the age-old genre of Still Life.  Heavily inspired by Peter Doig, the Dutch Old Masters and the installation art of Damien Hirst, this unusual grouping of styles fuse to create edgy, urban and contemporary paintings.

The artist’s creativity can largely be attributed to his mother’s influence; she attended the Royal College of Music before starting her family.  She allowed Chris to advance and flourish, swapping his music lessons for art lessons, encouraging him to explore his natural talent.  Chris obtained his degree in Fine Art at Cardiff and always wanted to live life in a big city.  His grandfather was a fisherman on the Sussex coast and his mother had lived in Littlehampton.  During the 1960s Chris’ father rode a Lambretta around Brighton in an age before helmets and the artist admits he fell for the romance of inherited stories when choosing Brighton above Bristol and London.  He now lives with his partner and is bringing up his daughter in the place where he feels more at home than anywhere else he has ever lived.  Does Sussex inspire his work? Not particularly, he admits his art could be painted anywhere, but Chris feels that the sea does influence his work in allowing the space for the freedom of thought.  He believes that Brighton is one of the few places where you can be yourself, a diverse city that encourages experimentalism.

His Hove studio is light, clean and contemporary, with an unmistakable hint of fresh oil paints and varnishes lingering in the air, he shares the studio with fellow artist Simon Dixon.  Chris’ current body of work focuses on things that sparkle and contrast, beside his easel is a small bookcase of choice trinkets, akin to Magpies’ treasure, orderly and neatly arranged, looking like installation art in itself.  Beside this is a table littered with tubes of paint, sponges, brushes and a huge stack of photographs of flowers.  A few currently available works hang on the wall, including ‘Botanica’, a fluid, yet almost photo-realistic study of a silver and glass vase issuing an orchestral explosion of flowers. With his distinctive dripping varnishes and touches of luminous colour it is beautifully presented in an ebonized wood frame of solid proportions.  Below is a small stack of other wrapped works, some recently returned from a show in Gstaad, others ready to send to the Opus Gallery.  Chris’ work is often sent all over the world for various group and solo exhibitions, including New York, Milan, Switzerland and London, where he has hung alongside the likes of Tracey Emin and Antony Micallef.  He can also sometimes be found in the Brighton gallery Ink’d as well as selling directly to his database of private collectors.

Chris describes his paintings as ‘journeys’, a culmination of exploring new avenues, constant editing and organic reworking, a process that means it can take up to three months to complete a single work.  The finished paintings are imbued with presence and emotion, a harmony of various flowers or fruit contrasting with mysterious glistening vessels.  These antique metallic elements are meticulously sourced for their visual aura and their possible enigmatic past.  The dripping varnish on occasions adds a feeling of recovered treasure pulled from the deep, hinting towards a nautical inspiration.  The varnish is the final act of freedom for an artist that is constantly striving and experimenting to improve his output.  Chris recognises that his career started as a whisper, but through self progression he has found his inimitable voice and judging by the current body of work it is big, punchy and powerful.

His latest venture is a limited edition print that he is publishing himself, produced to a high quality in an edition of just 20, ‘My Counterpoint II’ is the inaugural outing of an annual print of the artist’s favourite painting from the previous year.  By publishing it himself he can keep the cost lower than his other limited edition prints, offering it exclusively via his own website.

Chris Kettle deserves to be the next ‘big name’ in the contemporary art market, his subversive approach to the often overlooked subject of Still Life uniquely infuses the classic genre with a modern twist that brings the subject refreshingly up to date for a new generation of patrons.

Visit www.chriskettle.co.uk for more information and to see more examples of his work.

Nicholas’ article was originally published in Sussex Life magazine in March 2011.

An Introduction to Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction 2011

Contemporary Sculpture by Eve Shepherd, 'Masquerade'
Eve Shepherd's 'Masquerade'

We at TOOVEY’S Antique & Fine Art Auctioneers & Valuers are pleased to announce our fifth sale of Contemporary Art at Auction, this year in association with Horsham Museum.

The ethos of these sales has always been to promote the arts in Sussex by creating a refreshingly different way for artists to showcase their work in this county.  We are delighted that Horsham Museum & Art Gallery share this same outlook, deciding to exhibit many of the artworks in this catalogue in the ‘Hung, Drawn and Displayed’ exhibition.  The medieval timber-framed building in Horsham’s picturesque Causeway provides a contrasting backdrop for this diverse selection of 21st century art.

We hope that the auction will reciprocate this support by acting as a stimulus for people to visit the museum and preview some of the works in the sale.  Horsham Museum features a stunning collection of local and national importance and is free to enter.

Toovey’s support of the arts is not limited to these auctions.  In addition to our on-going support of Horsham Museum & Art Gallery and Worthing Museum & Art Gallery, this May we are sponsoring the HOUSE festival in Brighton and the Brighton Open.  The Brighton Open is a fascinating fridge magnet exhibition on the seafront of Brighton on the 7th May, where you can rearrange the artworks and even take your favourite image home with you for free.

In addition, I have been approached by Sussex Life magazine to write a regular feature on contemporary Sussex artists.  The first two articles were published in the March and April issues.

For collectors and patrons, the auction offers an exciting platform for the acquisition of art by established and emerging names.  Drawing on 15 years of experience in the resale art market, I have selected all the artists on their individual merits, creating a diverse and eclectic fusion of styles.  Many of the artists have featured in our previous auctions, but the list of names always changes and we are delighted with the fantastic selection offered in this year’s sale.

We look forward to welcoming you at our Spring Gardens rooms for the auction on May 28th.  If you are unable to attend the sale, but still wish to bid on any lots, we will be pleased to execute absentee bids on your behalf.  For more information on bidding and buying at our auctions, please visit www.tooveys.com or call our offices on 01903 891955.  Nicholas Toovey FRSA, BA (Hons)

Nicholas Toovey’s second article for Sussex Life

Sussex Life April Issue CoverNicholas Toovey was recently asked by Sussex Life magazine to write a regular feature on contemporary Sussex artists.  He was approached because of his contacts within the art world that he has formed from hosting the annual Contemporary Art Auctions at TOOVEY’S.

It enables Nicholas to further promote artists and the arts in Sussex, an area he is particularly passionate about. His second article published in the April issue of the magazine features the work of Washington-based artist Alison Milner-Gulland.  It is available in the shops now for £3.65.

The Brighton Open Press Release

Which magnet will you choose?

Brighton is about to attract its first magnetic art festival. Event organizer and artist Alban Low has over the past two years established smaller exhibitions across the country from Bath to Manchester. With the kind sponsorship of local fine art and antique auctioneers and valuers, Toovey’s, The Brighton Open will be the biggest and most high profile outdoor magnet exhibition undertaken in England (or even the world). In this distinctive exhibition over 200 artists will be participating and 500 magnetic images will be displayed on the seafront of Brighton from May 7th as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival.

The headline artists for this intriguing new event are Chris Kettle, Alban Low, Jane Denman and Natalie Martin. Featured artists are Sarah Young, Gemma Cumming, Amanda Brownridge, Dean Reddick, Stuart Simler, Bryan Benge, Shyama Ruffell, Peter S. Smith, Citizen Skwith and Glyn Walton. But everyone in the city is invited to take part – not just artists, but doodlers, photographers, children, pensioners, schools and whole local communities.

For this show students of the local Varndean School have been invited to participate, keeping the ethos of the Brighton magnet exhibition ‘open’.

Alban says ‘The Brighton Open will conceptually transform the seafront of Brighton into an open-air museum, where viewers are unusually invited to move artworks around and even take their favourite work of art back home with them – for free’. Collectors can then log onto the website address on the magnet to find out more about their new 5cm x 7cm miniature artwork. Visit www.brightonopen.blogspot.com for more information.

Magnetic Exhibition on Brighton Seafront
The Brighton Open Magnet Exhibition