Meet Wild Idyll Painter Christopher Noxon


meet an artist mondayAn award-winning and list-topping journalist, author, and illustrator, a few years ago Christopher Noxon fully embraced visual art as a calling. His riotously chromatic, time- and space-bending canvases seek the energy of the landscape’s wild places, infused with the pluripotentiality of the mind’s. Inspired as much by his years on an urban, political beat as by his subsequent escape to idyllic Ojai and forays into the life of an artist, Noxon’s investigations in form and color mirror the adventures unfolding in his consciousness — and the persistent sense that everything is deeply alive and fundamentally connected, even beyond what our eyes can see.

meet painter christopher noxon

Christopher Noxon: Matilija Canyon

L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?

CHRISTOPHER NOXON: Oh man the capital-A Artist question — that’s a doozy and one I’ve struggled with a lot, especially since I spent most of my life as a capital-W Writer, working as a journalist and writing books while compulsively sketching in journals and eventually getting into illustration. I started painting seriously in midlife so I’d rather just say I make art, which vibes with my two core beliefs that 1) identity is a trap, and 2) verbs over nouns.

 

What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?

My work is about the spirit of place and the worlds beyond this one. I try to let the pictures tell me what they want and get out of the way. I’m inspired by Huichol yarn paintings, Colorforms playsets and psychedelic Fauvists, by color and pattern and the simultaneous feeling of awe and humility, togetherness and singularity, personal insignificance and limitless possibility.

Christopher Noxon: Dip

Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?

I didn’t go to art school and barely had any formal instruction. I learned by studying paintings by my late grandmother Betty Lane. And by working in notebooks, first pocket-sized pads then gradually moving up to big hardbound sketchbooks that I worked on with pens, pencils, paints and collage. I regret not knowing more about technique and theory but I’m also happy to have avoided all the student loan debt — I’m also not sure any respectable art school would’ve allowed my brand of playful, wonky, color-blasted work (so much pink!)

 

What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?

Does it have to be one? I’m crazy for André Derain and Henri Matisse and would love to spend a week hanging out in the countryside with those guys, lugging our easels through the mud. I’d also love to spend an afternoon in Alice Neel’s Harlem apartment — she was apparently pretty crabby, but God those portraits (I’d love to get her tutorial on hands). And David Hockney is a huge influence — his “A Bigger Grand Canyon” is my Guernica, and his recent quick portraits are so exciting. The guy is 85 and just slaying.

Christopher Noxon: Meditation Mount

When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?

I have a piece in the 2022 Open Show, curated by MoCA curator Rebecca Lowery, at Gallery 825 on La Cienega, from December 10 – January 13. It’s a big abstracted landscape inspired by a trip I took this summer to the Venice Biennale. All that work — shoutout to its curator Cecilia Alemani — was exuberant and surreal and joyful and really beyond anything I’d ever experienced in a contemporary art setting. When I got home I started playing with pattern and surface and meaning in ways that feel entirely new. I’m currently working on a series of six foot-by-four foot landscapes based on canyons near where I live in Ojai. They’re busy and garish and strange and I’m not sure when or if I’ll show them together but I’m having an incredible time.

 

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?

I’ve always got something playing in the studio. If I’m doing something that requires a lot of concentration, I’ll play instrumental, unobtrusive sounds — I love the pianist H. Hunt, LA-based composer Emile Mosseri, and of course Brian Eno. Otherwise it’s usually a playlist of my go-to indie-folk favorites: Big Thief, Pinegrove, Wilco, Yo La Tengo, Bon Iver. Also love the podcast Bandsplain — it’s a deep dive on one band’s full discography. The Kate Bush episode is amazing, plus they did like SEVEN HOURS on PJ Harvey.

 

Website and social media handles, please!

christophernoxon.com

christophernoxonart.com

IG: @noxonpics

 

Christopher Noxon: Slow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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