Elana Rubinfeld talks with Chris Ballantyne, the San Francisco transplant whose exhibition Everything means something and nothing is what it seems to be is currently on view at Hosfelt Gallery.
Elana Rubinfeld: What do you think is the common thread running through your new work that is now on view at Hosfelt Gallery?
Chris Ballantyne: Right now landscape is the foremost thing in my work and naturally in this exhibit, in large part from my own experience growing up in america. Many of the paintings are combinations of places from memory or elements put together in a more surreal context. I grew up in areas surrounding cities so moving to San Francisco for school and then to New York I was really conscious of the suburban places that I had grown up in.
Untitled Building (Curtains), 2008; Courtesy the artist and Hosfelt Gallery
ER: You devoted three walls of the gallery space to a mural. Can you explain this piece, and it's importance to the exhibition?
CB: I took into consideration the way it might integrate into the gallery space, as well as the paintings that were in the show. I was interested in how you would see only part at first, walk around the corner and have it unfold in a sculptural way. In most cases I use an idea that I’ve had for a painting which this one in particular felt like the scale would be better suited for a larger mural. My paintings are generally on the smaller side so I like the jump in scale and the tension of the plank bridge is reinforced by the size of the painting surrounding it.
ER: The name of your new show at Hosfelt Gallery is called "Everything means something and nothing is what it seems to be." How does the poetic title relate to your work?
CB: It has an entropic quality that connects well with my paintings or this idea of idiosyncracy or disorder in urban and suburban, landscape and architecture. I wanted it to suggest that the empty space or nothingness has real meaning, or that the everyday and overlooked means something too. An empty lot of course being empty has a lot of meaning to many people, but especially so in the city.
ER: Your artwork seems to evoke the quiet longing of american suburbs. Where did you grow up, and how does it effect your artwork?
CB: I was born in Alabama and grew up partly in the south and then California, my father was in the Coast Guard so we moved pretty often to mostly coastal areas in the US like Texas, Florida, and Maryland as well. I surfed and skated a lot which has had an influence on my work and I think I would credit skating the most for my interest in architecture and its reinterpretation.
ER: Where would you build your dream house, and what materials would you use to build it?
Untitled, Battery, 2008; Courtesy of the artist
CB: I might ideally have a house on the coast probably in Northern California, and there’s of course all this material available now that’s more sustainable, but I think I could be happy to move into something already existing. Realistically I don’t know if I want to go through building something new, but who knows.
ArtSlant would like to thank Chris Ballantyne for his assistance in making this interview possible.
- Elana Rubinfeld