Chris Blunkell is largely self-taught, and in his own words fell back into painting in 2012 when he was supposed to be doing something else and, fatally distracted, he has not been able to find his way back to where he was. Blunkell says he struggles when he is required to describe what he does, as he doesn’t want to think about it beyond a rather loose framing of purpose. Intellectualising painting generally does it too many favours. Pictures are for the eye and the heart.
Blunkell paints in oil and acrylics and with the liberal use of charcoal for weight, depth and movement. Subjects are deliberately not limited. He paints people, interiors and from the natural world: often in combination, the narratives they suggest. However, he likes to think that if they are about anything, then really my pictures are about their own making
The idea of being able to see the ‘carpentry’ in a piece of work is important and that is true of a lot of the work. A will to see a sense of the labour, the fight, that goes into the making. In his paintings he wants evidence of accidents, of changes of mind, of things going awry and erasures, of work undertaken both carefully and rapidly as an idea starts to grip. Not only does this give the painting another layer of narrative, it brings the viewer into the story, as detective of how, and possibly why, a painting diverged from a path assumed.
A painting is ‘finished’ when it is starting to head to where it wants to go, but still shows the traces of how it has got to where it is. His job is to stop things in their tracks when the picture is girding itself for a final assault and before the mess of the battle has been cleared from the scene. It should be both emerging and halted decisively at a particular moment, ambiguous, possibly contradictory, (un)becoming.