Shiny snooker balls and all
Yellow Curve, Cedric Christie, courtesy Rocket Gallery
Artfacts.Net met Cedric Christie for the first time at the Art Forum, in Berlin. He was there to represent the London-based Rocket Gallery. There, we were stunned by his background and the art that comes out of it. As we were in London for the Frieze Art Fair, we thought it could be a good idea getting in touch with him at the gallery. We were honestly not expecting to be so warmly received by the artist himself.
Cedric Christie was born in 1962 in London. He still lives there; his base is in Hackney, more precisely in its lower part, around Hoxton. The area several years ago started to become the hot spot for artists. Still, picturing Christie in Hoxton is somehow misleading. One might think he has always craved its hype. It is not the case.
Christie was a welder. And at ease with that. He dealt with cars; only somebody who worked as many years as he did in that field can thoroughly understand what it takes to make a client satisfied: an absolutely perfect job. So it should not surprise that, on one of his girlfriend's tours to check art shows in hot Hoxton, he noticed bad welding on metal works at a café-gallery. Something clicked in his head and he immediately put himself down to work.
Station of the Cross (installation), Cedric Christie, photo by Paul Tucker, courtesy Rocket Gallery
The results are -by now- rather known in the international art scene. Snooker ball sculptures, monochrome portraits on aluminium, bricks with engraved phrases, scaffolding poles and clamps combined together are just some of the artworks he produced. He works with materials that much have to do with his previous occupation; he skilfully plays with their forms, he selects intense colours for them, he accurately combines them together to reach extremely powerful, abstract objects. They are all works full of wit, maybe expressing his attitude towards the art world, a world that just recently started to be his own.
He kindly took us visiting his studio. Peace reigned. There, we found some of his old works and some of what we dared to think his new ones. Some neon lights caught our eye. They reminded us of some Dan Flavin's artworks. However, if Flavin directly played on the bulbs by painting them and switching them on, the neon lights of Christie cannot be plugged in and what has been coloured is just their back support. We asked him how he can keep up with art, especially when every journalist is comparing his work to some other artist's. He said he tries to check as many exhibitions as he can, not just to know but, above all, to learn.
Station of the Cross (installation, detail), Cedric Christie, photo by Paul Tucker, courtesy Rocket Gallery
He then took us to his ‘space to think.’ It is a church, the typical English one made of bright, big bricks growing dark corners because of the pollution and the humidity so common in London. We could get in because he has the key. When the main door opened, crosses welcomed us. Almost as big as a human being and made of shiny snooker balls, they hang from all the perimeter walls of the church. They have a pace marked by colours. Mostly white, all the crosses have four red balls sliding towards their own ends at any new cross. The ‘cross-pace’ comes to an abrupt end with the last one, which is entirely red. Needless to ask, the installation is his. He had major plans for it but managed to have it just there, in St. Peter's Church, de beauvoir Rd, Hackney. The parish could not pay for the installation, something that doesn't seem to bother him at all. To Christie, the best form of payment -in a couple of years- would be giving the key to his kids too.
Our day with Cedric Christie was coming to an end. We dared to ask him a last, hard question: what if his works stopped interesting the art world? Apparently, it is an easy one for him. He simply would go back to his profession, to being a welder.
Text: M. Cecchinato