SPOTLIGHT | 02/04/2015 | TAJINDER HAYER
MR PATRICK CHURCH
For decades now, the debate over whether fashion is art or vice versa has been raging. There is simply no right answer. If asked, we would say that there is a great deal of evidence of designers and brands that create beautiful works of art that do more than sit in a gallery where they can be admired, they can be worn, shown off and elevate the feelings and personality of the wearer.
Of course, all great art should be personal and menswear is full of examples of personal art informing fashion – whether that be Lee McQueen’s obsession with birds and flight, Carlo Brandelli’s love of modern art and clean lines or Bobby Abley’s conversation about the dark side of Disney. British artist Patrick Church, born in Oxford in 1991 is firmly of this school of thought – his art is provocative, personal and full of personal memoirs. Perhaps best known and recognised for his portraits of designer Marc Jacobs, his paintings combine snapshots of unrequired love and passion. Whether on a canvas or on the back of a pair of heels, Church’s art boldly explores sexuality and sensuality through vivid colour and text.
A recent move to Paris sees Patrick Church place himself firmly at the centre of the art world. Combining the art and fashion world at the same time, a small jacket collection has recently expanded into shoes and accessories, which are available at “Not Just A Label” amongst other stockists in Paris and London. We recently got the chance to speak to Patrick about his art; inspiration and the challenges of creating works of art that one can wear. We are also excited to be able to showcase an exclusive, never seen before work of art that he created bespoke for this publication; Patrick’s unique vision of the rakish gent …
How did you get started as an artist? Is it the result of any formal training?
For as long as I can remember I have always been creative, I really enjoyed making things. My art teacher at high school really took me under her wing, I guess she saw my potential and she let me do pretty much whatever I wanted to do. Initially Renaissance and Rococo artists inspired me; I remember looking at a piece by François Boucher and it moved me so much I was physically shaking. I was shocked that an image could make the human body do that. I come from a very creative family, my Father collects art and skateboards and my Mother makes ceramics and we were always encouraged to do our own thing from a young age. I did start art school but I was in a dark, angry place for a long time and I dropped out a few times, I have also done two years of life drawing classes which I found extremely helpful.
Some of your images are highly provocative – do you aim to shock?
I don’t think I always aim to shock, however sometimes I can be quite an extreme person and this naturally just happens. Most of the time I am completely oblivious to it!
Do you think that a young artist needs to shock in order to get noticed?
I think many artists aim to shock, but the fact is that as a nation we have seen pretty much everything, and we dispose of everything so rapidly, so in my opinion something has to have substance or real passion behind it for it to survive and stay relevant.
Your progression from painting on canvas, to printing your work onto clothes appears to be seamless. Was it really this easy?
No, painting on fabric is much more difficult, you have to consider how the piece will look on the body, how it will move. Painting on different fabric surfaces can prove tricky too. Leather is my favourite thing to work on, the paint flows so smoothly, but I do love the painted body suits I am doing at the moment, even though they take a long time to finish.
Do you have any pieces or clothes that you are especially proud of?
I try to be proud of everything I make, if I am unhappy with something I either destroy it or paint over it and start again. It gives me anxiety if I feel I haven’t done my best.
What does your average day involve?
It totally depends; at the moment I find I am painting a lot in the mornings, and then again late at night. Every day is different, things are pretty busy at the moment with private commissions and working on a small collection, I also have a small performance piece I am preparing for in Portugal later this year. I am painting ten pieces for a Plastic Surgeon at the moment, which I am really enjoying.
Many of your images feature a strong range of primary colours and a similar tone – what is the message you hope to convey with these features?
I used to work with a really wide colour palette, and I was never satisfied with my work, I felt as though it was too messy, colours have to work together. Too many and you can completely destroy a piece of work. I have found that my work is much stronger and bolder when using a smaller variety of colours.
How much of your own character do we see in your work?
I would say a lot, the majority of my work are self portraits, or people that have some influence or importance over me, so I guess it’s all quite personal.
Your social media feeds that you are not shy about showing yourself off. How important is social media to you in getting your point across?
I guess social media is super important, you can be whoever you want to be, I still do find it rather strange though, but I do love Instagram.
Tell us about how you work. What is the process that goes into creating a piece?
It completely depends… sometimes I wake up from a dream with a set idea of what I am going to do in my mind, and sometimes it just happens. With the piece I created for ‘The Rakish Gent’ I thought about who I consider to be a slick, stylish ladies man, and I instantly thought of Prince. My mother is obsessed with him and he’s totally sexy, and quite feminine, so I was excited about exploring this idea. The painting just kind of happened, I was watching footage of him live in concert and looking at old magazine articles of him. I wanted to find a strong image to show his sexuality and beauty. I always start a painting with a wash, blocking in the colours, I then work into this with heavier tones. I then use black and white to define the image.
Did you always want to create fashion images?
No, but I am a big fan of beautiful things, and I guess fashion is quite often about exploring beautiful people and beautiful things.
Are there any artists that you particularly admire and that you have been inspired by?
Too many, not just artists, I am a very visual person and the smallest thing can stick in my mind which I revert back too. I am often inspired by strong and powerful people, I find that really exciting!
How would you describe your personal style?
What advice would you give to budding artists?
Work hard, never give up and never be satisfied, you can always do better.
And finally, for you, what makes a rakish gent?
Someone that makes me weak at the knees.
Patrick’s work has the power to shock, to start a conversation and to even clothe you in a unique and bold fashion. There is no doubt that he will continue to gain notoriety for the sexually charged and provocative work that defines his style and become a real talent for the twenty first century, that flawlessly combines fashion, art, sex and social media. Many thanks for the amazing work of art that Patrick created for The Rakish Gent. We think he understands exactly what it means to be a rakish gent.
Explore Patrick Church further on his website.