DOING GAWD'S WORK
This fall we worked with painter and longtime friend Chris Ross AKA GAWD. Originally from Montreal, QC now living in Vancouver, BC, Chris mixes wild nature inspired fantasy with dystopian urban landscapes. We caught up with him recently to get a little history on the surrealist, graffiti writing egg ink king.
Interview - J.B
Where are you from and what came first, skating or painting?
I was born in Montreal. I spent my childhood in Chateauguay beach, home to the strongest of the strange, and moved back to Montreal in my late teens. Like many children I was introduced to drawing and never really stopped. It was my childhood quite time, and continues to be. Skateboarding came at an early age as well and had an influence on my paintings and life in general.
"Muzzle" water color & spray paint 36" x 48" 2018
"Cow" water color & spray paint 36" x 48" 2018
Your style has been distinct and recognizable for a long time, did you experiment with different styles before you felt you found what you wanted?
I paint almost solely for the process of painting. Not much thought was put into the outcome . I'm not sure my style was one I choose, but rather an unavoidable natural progress, due to getting my hands on huge amounts of ink they use to date eggs and clumsiness.
What effect do you think growing up in Montreal had on your work?
Growing up in Montreal had a huge influence on my work. Rent and expenses were so cheap that I never really had to have a job. I could paint all day. The inexpensive rents allowed people to live in huge warehouses that were often used to have parties and art shows to pay rent. The graffiti scene in the late nineties early two thousands felt like a free for all with so many good writers. I am sure I would not have been the same painter if I was from any other city.
Spray paint acrylic 15ft x 56ft 2017 Runnymede underpass. Toronto, ON
You’ve been doing a lot murals over the last few years, breakdown the difference between prepping for a mural VS a painting.
The process of murals and paintings is equally enjoyable. Making paintings can be spontaneous. There are no time lines and I am usually alone. Murals have the challenge of timelines, proposals etc. Murals also allow me to work in large scale which is extremely enjoyable and makes up for any of the red tape.
Spray paint acrylic 20ft x 20ft 2017 Underpass park, Toronto, ON
What it's like dealing with burrows and cities for murals?
Dealing with cities and burrows for murals is interesting. It has forced me to do things that don't come naturally to me. like plan, speak about concepts and act interested and open to someone's ideas who doesn't paint or like art .There are often people who are interesting. Who have nice stories and ideas that I do enjoy. There is a lot of bureaucracy and some beauty. I have been lucky enough on occasion to have great people write my proposals and do the dirty work for me. That is my preferred method to go about it.
What inspires the reoccurring themes of nature and animals juxtaposed in the urban landscape?
I guess I am painting what I feel , whether it's something I am experiencing or seeing. The animals and nature probably represent the light and the urban landscapes the darkness. The juxtaposition could represent the struggle.
Mile End, Montreal, QC
How has social media affected getting you work out there?
I am horrible at social media. I don't think it has helped me get my work out at all.
How has fatherhood changed your perspective on your work and life?
Fatherhood has added so much light to everything. The simplest things are so enjoyable with Clover. I don't think my perspective of work has changed, but My perspective on life probably has in more ways than I could express.
Any new projects coming up?
I'm off to my studio now. We will see what happens.
See more GAWD @stopheross
Interview - Jai Ball