Charles Campbell

Artist’s Statement

My practice has been primarily concerned with mapping and questioning the relationship between meaning and image, particularly as they relate to my personal and cultural background. I use painting both as a tool to examine my understanding of the world and to transcend it.

The iconography in my current work can generally be broken down into a few recurrent motifs: moths, slave ships, Mandalas, the ocean and flocks of birds. These all carry personal meanings and/or refer to larger cultural mythologies. A diagram of how slaves were cargoed during the middle passage, a shorthand for historical episodes of human suffering, forms the central image of my recent work. By repeatedly reflecting and rotating this image it is transformed into intricate geometric patterns, knots & mandalas. Other images carry more personal associations.

On the canvas the intention is not to create a clear narrative from the iconographic or symbolic reading of these elements, but rather to push and pull at how these meanings naturalise themselves on the images. For this purpose the visual language of pattern and symmetry, order and randomness is employed. The nature of the type of pattern used becomes its own vehicle for meaning and may either conform to or contradict the meaning applied to what the image signifies. The tension that exists between these two very distinct types of readings energises the work and produces enigmas out of mere paint and canvas.

Charles Campbell.

Transformation Set, 2004
oil/paper/canvas
3 canvases
each 18" x 18"