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Chris Stevens

Mr

20062016

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Personal profile

Research interests

Stevens’s research interests are focused on our relationships with the world and our sometimes conflation of immediate reality and its mediated representations. He uses the notion of ‘representation’ in its widest sense: A painting or a photograph might represent reality; a lawyer represents a client. In both cases a view of some aspect of the world is put forward, but also, in both cases we rely on this mediation (act of representation) to tell a story which we hope is accepted as truthful; as ‘good’. This seems simple enough but is, in reality, fraught with difficulty, and only by interrogating the process, together with its flaws, that we can arrive at a better sense of where we are.
For Stevens, the ‘process’ is intimately linked to the media we use to explore ideas. He believes that each subtly changes the ways we think, so that the medium, whether it be speech, writing, painting, the taking of a photograph, changes us as much as we mould our works in seeking to play out an idea. We not only use languages to think in, and the act of painting should also be defined as a way of thinking rather than just the application of pigment to a surface.
This ongoing exploration is played out via Stevens’s long-standing practice as a painter, more recently moving to include photography, looking at the relationship between painted and photographed representations, and how both, in turn relate to our perceptions of the world, and of being in the world.
This has resulted in a number of outputs via solo and group exhibitions, more recently in the form of a blog and, currently, an Instagram page as a way of sharing works outside the commercial art gallery system.

Scholarly biography

Stevens studied Fine Art Painting at Brighton (1978-81) and Fine Art Printmaking at Central School of Art, London (1981-82). Since graduating he has exhibited widely in the UK and abroad, winning numerous prizes for his work including the John Moores, Nat West, BP Portrait travel award and several major Arts Council England awards. His work is in several large collections including those of the British Government, Zabludowicz, Eastbourne Council and University of Brighton. He began teaching formally at Brighton in 2001 as 1st year tutor and is now course leader for the BA Fine Art Painting degree.

Approach to teaching

Following on from his own investigations as an artist, Stevens’s teaching is based on his belief that ideas come out of our relationship with a medium, rather than preceding its use to make a work. He feels that all of our ‘ideas’ spring from a mixture of seemingly random observations and initially vague thoughts on doing something with them. What then follows is a negotiation with the materials, and a lot of self-reflection and analysis, towards an unknown outcome that we need to keep an open mind about, allowing it to take us in directions that we may not have previously considered. 

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