While at the University of California at San Diego Chris received a double major in theater and history. He specialized in lighting, the consumption of lice by Allied POW’s, and stage design. After graduation he worked as a firefighter in the El Dorado National Forest, spending much of his free-time building classic motorcycles and painting model airplane crashes. His fascination with fire and high speed collisions eventually led him to New York where he increasingly found work lighting stages for theatres and dance clubs.
Prior to his move to New York much of Chris’s painting reflected the realism his classically trained grandmother, Marie, had imparted to him. His experiments against this realism first consisted of the taping off of forms, creating a style reminiscent of Art Deco. Later, the influence of Jackson Pollock’s drop technique would evolve into Chris’s own throw technique as he searched for new ways to contact the walls and ceilings he increasingly substituted for canvases. In his most recent work the nude form is found imprinted, bound, exploded, overseeing, protecting and gathering the chaos of Chris’s creations.
“As soon as I put paint to canvas I let it have a life of its own. I know where I want it to go, but I let it get there of its own accord.”
Shortly after moving to New York Chris founded Studio 312. He hoped the studio would create a distance between himself from his paintings. “While I’m painting I step outside myself. I disassociate myself from the works after they’re finished.” Even his signature during this period reads Marie, in homage to his 91 year old grandmother. It is this dichotomy between respecting the traditions of his own genesis and continuing to struggle against them that creates the tension present in his paintings. In spite of this tension Chris continually finds a way to reconcile these apparently opposing forces.
“I grew up learning that painting was something you did with a paintbrush, canvas and easel. Not that there is anything wrong with that, far from it. It’s just now I rarely use that combination. The act of creating something is the most important thing. Once it’s created it may mean something completely different to you as it does to me, and that’s the best part.”
- Chris Walsh
- Lighting design