Artist Chris Slabber wrings form from chaos in his work, with his surrealistic style evoking motion in the static and rendering beauty from even the simplest of objects.
Combining an expansive imagination with extraordinary digital manipulation skills, one of Slabber’s most prominent series’ sees him coax faces from swirling acrylic paint dropped in water to create dynamic, moving artworks.
A serial award winner for his commercial work, Slabber most recently picked up the prestigious ‘Designer of the Year’ award in the Photography & Manipulation category at the A’ Design Awards in Como last month for work he did on a campaign with Doom insecticide and TBWA.
His client list includes Gordon’s Dry Gin; Qatar Airways; Volkswagen; NBA, Cell C; Mercedes-Benz; City of Cape Town; GQ; WWD Magazine, Huffington Post & Harper Collins Publishing (he produced a striking a cover image for The Whitecoat’s Daughter by Olivia Cole).
Growing up in the Klein Karoo, around Oudtshoorn, Slabber’s humble surroundings fueled his imagination and drove him to create work that plays on the viewer’s subconscious. “I want each viewer to complete the work using their imagination,” he says. “It should be an inward journey, manifested as an emotional experience”.
Collections like ‘Destruction/Creation’ and ‘Renatus’ invite the viewer to do just that, with powerful, recognizable images floating up from the churning paint. The inspiration behind ‘Destruction/Creation’ was the meeting point between the two states – as the paint falls there is a constant point of creation, but at the same time, the tail end keeps disintegrating into the water. “So almost as anything dies, it becomes part of the earth again, in order to contribute to new life,” says Slabber. “ ’Renatus’ is a first name of Latin origin, which means “born again”. With the Renatus series, I had to accept the ‘chance’ element and work with what the universe provided,” he says.
Next on his creative agenda is a series with 1111 Photography Studio in Cape Town to produce work which uses Polaroid images as paint strokes. “It’s kind of like reinterpreting Impressionism,” he says.
Written by: Trevor Crighton
Images supplied by the artist.