Live Out Loud Magazine Interview with Chris Buchanan
What motivated you to become a full time artist?
I had a lifetime ambition to retire at the age of 35 and focus on bringing up a family. I managed to do it at the age of 34. While I was in the process of selling the equity in a business to my partner, my wife said I better do something to keep myself busy. I decided to focus on another lifetime ambition and that is to paint a painting that someone actually like, even more so, a painting that I actually liked. So I did some research, painted 5 paintings and took them to Hout Bay Gallery. It was the 1st January 2002. The work all sold in 4 days and then 25 in 6 weeks and till today it's around 2500. The motivation to become a full time artist started to appear and when my wife said I need to start or buy another company because my retirement money was running out, I decided to take up art full time and push with all my energy.
The cat, the mountain, lighthouse, sexy girl and tree are recurring themes in your art. What is their significance?
I have been asked this question many time and the answer is that there is no meaning or significance. I see something, I like it and then I sketch it and if it works I paint it.
Your work has been classified in the "neo pop art" genre. How do you interpret "neo pop art" and what for you, are the main ingredients?
I try to steer clear of art labels, specifically to movements and or art. I would prefer, to make such a massive impact one day, that a movement is named after me. I'm not sure at all what Neo Pop means. New Pop perhaps, or Singularly Unique Pop. My main ingredients, excuse the pun, is to take pages out of famous artists, visionaries, and successful businessmen's book and create my own recipe. Once that has been formulated then teach it.
How do you feel about South African art and its evolution in a post activist society?
I just came back from a 6 country, 12 city visit of Europe and an very excited. Europeans are so much more deeply cultured in art. They ooze with knowledge of art and culture. South Africa has been good to me, but my clients are 75% European. South African art has its place and its fortunately or unfortunately gonna stay where it is and what it is. Artists are slowly educating the public with the masses of high quality art produced, both commercial and academic. Deep down inside I feel someone, if there is someone responsible, is not doing enough to get South Africans out of 1st gear and into 2nd gear culturally and artistically. It will happen one day. William Kentridge and Marlene Dumas are putting us on the map, but that someone needs to be found.
You are extremely business savvy, is there ever any conflict between the artist and the businessman?
Yes all the time. Every second and every though. My mind is 10 years ahead of what I produce. I come with a creative idea and my business mind kicks in and that kills most of my ideas and concepts. Business is a reality, you need to do commerce in order to make money, in order to live and feed yourself and family. Art and creativity is a dangerous luxury. If you can get the two to balance on a scale, as I have, then you have found the main ingredient to becoming a successful artist. Its about business.
I would also like to explore the elements of giving something back to society and the way you go about it through your art - how art is positioned to make a significant contribution.
I have a big vision to build 7 buildings across the world under the Richard Scott Art Foundation. You reap what you sow.
Editor - Live out Loud