Boynes Monthly Art Award March Edition – Interview
WHO ARE YOU?
I am Christoph Eberle, a hyper realistic painter, born in 1969, living and working in Zurich.
At the age of 5 I decided to become an artist. I had only recently heard the term, but the implications were exactly what I wanted to do, to pursue my fascination with the drawing and painting of reality.
I had my first exhibition at the age of 14. Later I graduated as an architect, but never worked in that profession, instead working as a freelance graphic designer and advertiser for over 20 years. For about 15 years I have been working as a hyper realistic painter.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO UTILIZE PAINTING AS A MEDIUM?
Sometime in elementary school, I probably saw the first painting consciously. "The Art of Painting" by Jan Vermeer van Delft. It blew me away, both in terms of the quality of the technical realization and also conceptually.
The spatial depth, created by the staggering of the picture planes, the use of light and shadow. Finally, the almost photorealistic realization of the details.
That's what I wanted to do, "The Art of Painting"! Although I struggled a bit with the brush at first, I now knew what was possible, but it took me a while to discover and learn to love oil paints.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WORK?
I collect pictorial impressions, whether from everyday life or based on a pictorial concept. Somewhere between a platonic idea and an encyclopedia. I roughly divide my works into stills (rooms and landscapes) and objects.
They are as precise and detailed as possible views of a specific situation, be it interiors, where I let the painting tell a story without using people, or objects, such as pieces of meat or lifestyle objects, which I paint in as detailed as possible.
CAN YOU DISCUSS THE INSPIRATION AND THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND YOUR WINNING WORK?
The painting is called "Snow 2", which is the second painting in the "Snow" series, a snow-covered mountain in Clavadel near Davos, Switzerland. The visual impression is very graphic because the view is reduced to the sky and the mountain due to the snow cover.
I am interested in the tension between the structure of the picture, which coagulates into a graphic composition, and the cold, oppressive atmosphere of the mountain situation, which is nevertheless very realistic.
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH THE TECHNICAL STEPS OF CREATING “SNOW 2”?
First there is the preliminary drawing on the stretched canvas in pencil or colored pencil, relatively roughly sketched out, at most a rough underpainting to define the light and dark areas with acrylic. And then layer upon layer of oil paint, each one a little more structured and detailed. Ideally, the last layer should consist of only the tiniest drops of paint.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO COMMUNICATE TO AN AUDIENCE WITH YOUR WORK?
I paint pictures that I want to hang on my wall, and I hope that others do as well. It is about seeing a painting, reading it. As a whole, as a pictorial idea - and then, on a second level, to discover the picture as a painting down to the last detail. The painting should function as a pictorial idea and generate additional value through the painterly structures.
HAVE YOU EXPERIMENTED WITH OTHER MEDIUMS?
I have been fortunate enough to experiment with most of the relevant techniques, be it gouache, watercolor, acrylic, airbrush, linocut or engraving, all have their specific qualities. But the first time I worked with oil paint, a new world opened up for me and I made a clear decision to go that way. But I still use different techniques all the time.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR BIGGEST LEARNING EXPERIENCE DURING THE PROCESS OF CREATING YOUR WORK?
It is invigorating to change techniques from time to time, to get out of your comfort zone. When I worked with airbrush, I saw how easy it was to create blurs and gradients with the tool. Actually, I would have liked to work with airbrush for a longer period of time, but the compressor was just too loud to be able to work with it in a relaxed way for a longer period of time. But the realization of the feasibility of the painterly blur in painting led me to reproduce this blur with the brush in oil.
CAN YOU DISCUSS YOUR BIGGEST SUCCESS SINCE STARTING YOUR ARTISTIC JOURNEY?
I get to participate in exhibitions at home and abroad, this and the resulting opportunity of all the people I have been able to meet and love through it is certainly a nice success. Currently, there are many group exhibitions of hyperrealist painting and I am looking forward to participating in the one in Bordeaux in the fall of 2023, and of course in the HypArt exhibition in the fall of 2024 – a really ambitious and exciting project.
And when I occasionally succeed in creating a painting the way I had hoped, then that is definitely a nice feeling of success too.
CAN YOU TELL SOMETHING YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN BEFORE OR WHEN YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER THAT WOULD HAVE REALLY HELPED?
For a long time, I completely lacked the "market economy" foundation, the knowledge of how the art market works, how important networks are. A lot of it can't be planned, but working stoically as a hermit prevents you from being noticed in public, and that is absolutely important. I also missed the assessment of the quality of my work, of my path as a painter. It is important to develop a realistic self-awareness of one's work, to know one's abilities, but also one's limits.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON CURRENTLY?
Recently I have finished a bed and a night painting with a person in red light. I work on different paintings at the same time, because oil paint can take a long time to dry,
which means that the work has to rest until another layer of oil paint can be applied. In addition, I switch to another painting as soon as I realize that I am stuck and making no progress. As a result, I have five to seven paintings in progress at any one time, mostly smaller works that are finished more quickly, and larger ones that keep me busy for months. At the latest before a vernissage, finishing is the order of the day!
My current long-term project is a sea panorama. Another night painting is also in the works.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT OR PIECE YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH?
In the short term, i.e. until the end of this year, it is the sea panorama. But there are still several exciting ideas for paintings that I would like to realize. However, the hyper-realistic way of painting only allows me to complete a small number of works per year. This means that there are always a lot of ideas waiting to be developed before I get around to realizing them.
I am still planning works which I want to re-introduce the person, the human figure; interiors and landscapes, but time is short!
AS A WINNER, DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ARTISTS WHO WANT TO SUBMIT TO AWARDS, COMPETITIONS, RESIDENCIES, ETC.?
As far as I can see, there are currently a lot of opportunities to participate in competitions at the moment, for example the FIKVA Award, where I am allowed to be on the jury. Basically, you should see which competition suits you. So keep your eyes open and apply with the best and most suitable work!
LASTLY, I LIKE TO ASK EVERYONE WHAT ADVICE THEY WOULD GIVE TO THEIR FELLOW ARTISTS/PHOTOGRAPHERS, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE?
Work, don't wait for enlightenment, muses or inspiration, just work hard. And of course always fail, start again and fail better. Not looking for the art, but discovering what all develops during the production.