Chris Griffin was born in 1945 in Maesycwmmer, Mid Glamorgan. He studied in Gloucester College of Art from 1969 – 1972, where he was awarded a Travelling Scholarship, and Royal College of Art 1972 – 1975 where he was awarded an MA and won the Anstruther Prize. He subsequently attended Cardiff College of Art 1975 – 1976. He was a National Prize Winner in the 1997 Laing Landscape Competition and a Regional Prize Winner in 1998. Since 1979 he has shown regularly across South Wales in both solo and mixed shows.
His paintings are concerned with the formal qualities of their subject matter, and how they relate to the shallow space of the picture plane. His subject matter has remained consistent for a number of years, featuring mostly the urban and rural landscape of the South Wales valleys. Often, using rich and emotional colour, the paintings develop into lyrical expressions of the landscape. Latterly, his work has included a number of still life paintings and his landscapes have extended further afield, principally the Picos Europas mountains of Northern Spain.
"For as long as I can remember, the industrial valleys of South Wales have been a constant source of subject matter for my paintings. As a student in Cheltenham, and London, my return trips to Wales gave me the content for my work. Being away from my home surroundings only heightened the impact of the dramatic landscape of the valleys. My early work reflected much of the coal industry that dominated South Wales, and it could be termed as gritty social realism. Latterly, after the decline of the coal industry, my interest turned to the more formal aspects of the landscape and its disparate elements. I use the terraces, chapels, sheds, and neon lights etc. as elements in my compositions, searching for pictorial structures that define the essence of the subject, rather than reproducing any exact resemblance of a particular place.
As a consequence of needing to have the workforce near to the collieries, many of the houses were built in the most unlikely of places, often set on steep valley sides with rugged hills as a backdrop. This provides me with compositions that are dynamic and pictorial space that is tight; both of these elements are ideally suited for my use of formal arrangement. In rendering these subjects, I have developed a method that requires me to scrape down the painting several times before arriving at the finished state. This process leaves me with a rough and worked surface which becomes the equivalent for the scarred and rugged landscape."
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