Ceri Pritchard – Artist interview
Ceri Pritchard was born in 1954, He is the eldest son of Welsh artists Gwilym Prichard and Claudia Williams. “Growing up in an artistic environment with well-known painter parents has given me a sense of the importance of ‘doing’ and ‘working’. The challenge of creativity is always for me rewarded by the element of surprise.” I work to make paintings that change one’s visual perception, that produce wonder and anxiety at the same time.”
He enrolled in the Liverpool School of Art in 1972 specializing in sculpture. After receiving his BA in Fine Arts in 1976 he continued working at the same school on a scholarship. He moved to London in 1978 where he enrolled at Saint Martin’s School of Art and continued to sculpt. In 1980 he moved to France where his work changed radically from three dimensional to two dimensional and he became a painter.Collage and photocopies were the starting point for Pritchard’s new works which debuted in 1986 at the Jon Gerstad Gallery in New York.
Ceri Pritchard’s paintings are fascinating, not least for their extremity. They are resolute in their classically fantastical, surrealist conviction, and this can be a lonely position in the context of contemporary art. It is not a complete isolation though, as there is a distinguished continuity of surrealist practice in Wales where Pritchard lives and paints. His sense of this surrealist purpose, combined with a diligent work ethic, makes him a total example of painterly conviction.
Pritchard’s art has been influenced through living in a number of different countries. He once lived in (and was married in) Mexico, and the psychotropic ethno-botany and magic-based religion that are traditional there have an important relationship with his painting. Shamanic psilocybin use in Mexico is often combined with a strange, unlikely magico-catholicism, not so dissimilar to the hybrid, magico-religious practices involving mushrooms that take place in Wales. Although he is now abstinent from any psychotropic chemical use, Pritchard has experience of it, and this qualifies a description of his work as sometimes as frighteningly anxious as a bad drugs experience, but always with a magically transformative intent.
· Firstly how is the lockdown affecting your work?
In many ways the Lockdown has not changed much in my day to day life. Its fairly quiet in Groeslon, not like living in a city. My work routine is much the same, I spend most of the day in my studio, I try to be as disciplined as possible although this is in some sense at odds with belief that creativity is an activity that should not come under the same constraints as other aspects of life.
· Where do you get most of your inspiration?
Inspiration comes from working and creating. However ideas can come from both external and interior sources. For example the work and films of David Lynch contain many elements which have influenced my work. I would say that writers and film makers affect what I do probably a lot more than other painters. Aspects of my painting have been informed by Surrealist thought, but what I do is more of my own idiosyncratic journey than a documentation of the world around me. At the same time, ideas come as an indirect reaction to world events: war, environmental catastrophe, technological takeover and mass produced imagery. I feel that the use of ‘fictitious biological’ elements in my painting pre-empted the current pandemic! I believe that art is a means to tap into our subconscious and the vocabulary one uses is connected to one’s early childhood and development.
· Do you prefer to work outside/in your studio/a mixture of both?
I work mostly in my studio. I use the outside as a place to relax, reflect or meditate.
· Do you have a favourite painting that you have done? If so which one?
· Where/ or what is your favourite place/subject to paint?
My recent themes revolve around the use of the everyday in unfamiliar situations.
· How do you find titles for your paintings, does the idea come before or after?
Usually the title comes after the piece, they can be directly linked to the image, sometimes from a random event and from time to time I’ll ask a friend to suggest something. Anything is better then ‘untitled’
· Who’s your favourite artist/artists?
David Lynch, Max Ernst, Philip Gaston
· Do you listen to music while you paint? If so what kind of music?
Yes..and No, it depends! I’m fairly eclectic it could be Miles Davis, then Led Zeppelin, followed by Verdi’s Requiem, some Robert Johnson, Tom Jones, Pink Floyd, Orbital.
· What does your studio space look like?
· How do you feel your work has changed over the years?
Experience changes my ideas and ways of working, I have a much larger collection of experiences to draw from. However, sometimes it is better to forget these and react and paint in a spontaneous and immediate manner.
· Is there a particular time/place or movement you feel influenced you the most?
Definitely the five years that I lived in Mexico changed me and my work. The atmosphere, the colours and chaos all were tremendously exciting and a huge contrast to the life I had been used to in Europe. Since studying in Liverpool I had always been interested in the Maya (through the novels of William S Borroughs), This and certain aspects of Surrealism have contributed to the way I think and paint.
· What other work have you done apart from being an Artist?
Road sweeper, dish washer, carpenter, plumber, decorator, chateau caretaker and probably more that I’ve forgotten!
· What sort of painting are you working on at the moment?
Can you show us some images from your sketchbook?
· What is your favourite medium to work in and why?
Oil paint, its incredibly versatile and there are endless ways in which to use it.