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Clairmont, Philip (New Zealand, b.1949, d.1984), Artist
A.M's Chair
oil and acrylic on jute canvas
1460 x 925 mm image size
1505 x 985 x 45 mm frame size
Collection of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. Purchased 1981 with funds from the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.
Philip Clairmont, who repeatedly explored domestic objects and interiors, likened his almost obsessive interest in the same subjects to Cézanne’s interest in Mont Saint-Victoire. He was impressed by the fact that the French artist visited the same place time and again to get the same view of the same subject. Clairmont, in his own words, was ‘similarly supported, but by the house and the things in it’.
The singular vision and passion of Vincent van Gogh was also important to Clairmont. In 1972 he did his own painting, Chair with Uneasy Figure in it, after van Gogh’s Vincent’s Chair with his Pipe. For Clairmont, van Gogh’s chair, and chairs in general, ‘were objects of astounding significance, revealing…their existence and man’s effect on them’. Perhaps the man who affected the chair in this painting was Clairmont’s collaborator, co-conspirator and confidante, painter Allen Maddox, the ‘A. M.’ in A.M.’s Chair.
Clairmont gives us his trademark expressionist, somewhat psychedelic style. His thick, ragged yet deliberate and layered strokes of paint on rough hessian create a vital object dedicated to the advent of painting, inspired by a fellow artist and chair he knew well. Taking on its own life, the painted chair seems part skeletal body and part face.

not on view

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