British Painter Chris White Takes The Physical Back To The Imagination.
Words Michael Hilton IMAGES Chris White
Chris White is an artist from Hereford, England, who has spent much of his life admiring the beauty and power of motorcycles. His father was big into motorcycles, so he says motor oil has always been in his blood — only now it has been replaced with oil paint. White has been a painter for 35 years and has spent the past three years developing his company, Buzz Vizualz, a collection of work focused on the beauty and design of exclusive vehicles.
“The motorcycle — its construction and purpose — is a metaphor for life," White explains when asked why he was drawn to paint motorcycles in particular. "Raw materials are engineered to sculpt its individual anatomy; they work in sync with each other to create energy and movement. In a world driven by mass production, these builds I study are examples of individuality and freedom with respect to the timbre of classic motorcycle design.”
To find unique one-off builds, White scans Instagram until he discovers one to his liking, then connects with the builder to get the project in motion. This has helped him develop some great relationships and deepened his appreciation for what the builders create. “Some have amazing stories, most of which involve the creative struggle for what they do," he says. "Some stories make my heart flutter in respect to the relatives they have rebuilt motorcycles for, and the family history they have drawn inspiration from.” Through this process he's had the opportunity to work with renowned builders such as Max Hazan, Craig Rodsmith, Chris Tope, and Michael LaFountain.
White has a unique approach that informs his signature style. “The main idea is to render only parts of the vehicle and leave the rest up to pure imagination — an after-image, so to speak. Imagine the machine screaming past you at speed; your eyes will only see certain parts, and your brain, at a later stage, will construct the rest of it in its own way." He then employs lines and abstract textures to convey speed and the feeling of motion; he uses mixed mediums to construct artifacts that combine graphic and fine art sensibilities. "I like the control of fine lines painted with brushes," he explains. "That is offset with the gestural speed strokes and the lack of control of spray cans. Letting the nozzle blast its spray over highly detailed sections mixes up the composition.”
While working on his projects, White balances time that is focused on developing the part of the image that is recognizable with time spent on the part that is more free-flowing. “An hour will pass and I look at what I have done and realize that instinct has taken me to a part of the piece that I can’t control,” he says. “Again, this relates to the rider and the machine — it's a meditative state similar to the rider and the ride, all still firmly embedded in the theme of movement and forward motion and the terrain.”
Regarding the growth of his craft, White says, “I spend a lot of time developing my processes and refining my way of creating art to reflect what I like about the materials I use and the approaches to combining techniques and processes. I’m old and ugly enough now to know what I like about visual arts and many other things. The wheel has been invented, so why should I want to reinvent it? I’m digging into me, and how I can learn from art and what I create. It’s very empowering to understand your light and dark sides and how they interact with each other.”
White is proud that he’s developed a visual style that people can readily identify, and it has opened up new opportunities for him. "I’m very excited about the latest painting of the Ducati 'Grand Prix,' as this represents many years of self development and mindfulness of my influences — both in human and non-human forms. It’s now time for me to kick into another gear and continue to blast forward into visualizing the machine in motion," he says. "Each build I paint motivates me to push the boundaries of my approach and relationship with graphic image-making further. And of course, I want to continue to develop relationships, creative dialogue, and friendships with collectors and organizations who want to invest in me and my art.”