As a boy, Christopher Clamp rummaged around in his grandfather's barn. "He collected all sorts of strange things," he recalls. Each piece came with its own story, its own history, transporting him from his present into its past.
Far From Home is his latest exhibition of new paintings celebrating objects from his own past or that he has picked up because he found them interesting. The exhibition will be at Jerald Melberg Gallery in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 29 through June 3.
"This exhibition continues my exploration of the commonplace object," he says, "this time as a vehicle to somewhere greater. Objects, no matter how ordinary, hold a magic and a power that can transport us to different times and realms, depending on how they are arranged, used or treated. Memories can comfort and they can also emphasize how much distance there is between then and now. My hope is that the paintings will cause viewers to engage with their own memories and perhaps be transported."
His early paintings depicted the objects life-sized, often centered in a 12-by-12-inch square format. "I've always enjoyed a square format," he explains. "It's proportionately balanced. Putting a single object in the square with the right amount of negative space lends it the feeling of a relic."
In one of his recent paintings, Gypsy Queen, multiple objects are centered near the bottom of a vertical rectangle. "The negative space focuses the eye on the object towards the bottom," he explains. "I think that it adds an element of stillness and silence that further emphasizes the drama of the painting. By having the object in a position of an icon - something from our past to be remembered, explored and celebrated."
He further emphasizes the iconic status of his artifacts by painting them larger than life and in a larger format. The largest painting in the exhibition is 40 by 30 inches.
"Painting the objects from my grandfather's barn connected me to my past and my family's past," he says. "At exhibition openings, people would tell me a painting unlocked something in their past and they'd tell me a story that it has triggered."
Clamp has only recently dedicated himself to painting full-time, renovating a garage for his studio. Just as his new paintings are "a vehicle to somewhere greater", we can comfortably expect his facility and newly dedicated time to lead somewhere greater as well.