Berlin-based artist Christopher Kieling (b. 1988) graduated from Central Saint Martins with a BA in Graphic Design. He concluded his 4 year stay in London with a solo exhibition at The Book Club in 2012. Chris began his artistic career with ink drawings and printmaking, then transitioned to oil and acrylic painting. His background in design combined with his passion for mark-making come together to create a visual experience of bold compositions and technical finesse.
Born into a family of stage actors, theater and set design shaped Christopher’s perspective at a young age. Throughout his artistic career these influences became evident. His composition are often stage-like; creating a dialogue between his protagonists and their surroundings. Props and expressive gestures compose a narrative which the viewer is challenged to untangle.
Inspired by contemporary painters like Neo Rauch and Euan Uglow, Kieling begins to explore figurative compositions in 2014. His paintings quickly grew in complexity as Christopher focuses more on texture and materials, pushing the boundaries of realism. This continues in his excursion into still life and landscape painting.
Christopher gained traction with his Sierra paintings. A series of works playfully capturing the Zeitgeist during the first Covid19 lockdown in 2020. These meticulously planned paintings caught the attention of international galleries and resulted in an inaugural solo exhibition at Grove Square Galleries in London the same year.
With bolstered confidence and a strong gallery partner, Christopher continues to develop a visual language of his own; combining all the techniques he learned along the way and pushing himself to his full potential as a painter.
5 questions to Christopher:
1. Do you have artists in your family?
I come from a family of stage actors. Therefore Theater is very close to my heart. I love the balance between ‚playing' on stage and cultural context. It showed me an alternative way of life as opposed to getting up and going to the office in the morning, and in many ways gave me courage to pursue my artistic path. My older brother also introduced me to graffiti at an early age, which heavily influenced my identity in my teenage years, and essentially made me study design.
2. Do you have close artist friends and who are they.
Absolutely! I have been working as an artist for over 10 years now. The reality is that most of my friends are somehow connected to art. My closest childhood friend (Tim Oliver Schultz) is a successful actor in Germany. I was part of several collectives and met amazing and talented people along the way. Nico Sawatzki, Eugen Schultz, Tomislav Topic, Maleek Illustrations, Kevin Momoh just to name a few.
3. Where do you find your subjects for your work?
Lately I am trying to focus on subjects around me. Objects around the house and people close to me. I believe it adds a personal level to my work in the long run. However I am also subscribed to several online magazines and online photo archives. It helps to open the mind to new ideas and is a great general source of inspiration.
4. What was your job before you started with art?
After college I worked in a few design agencies, but I really didn’t enjoy that. I ended up working backstage at theTheater am Kurfürstendamminstead because the working hours allowed me to produce art during the day. My last job was as a stage manager forStars in concert- a popular doppelganger show in Berlin. We had acts like Cher, Freddy Mercury, Tina Turner and Elvis Presley. I really enjoyed working there, but in 2015 I decided to focus on painting full time.
5. Do you practise sports and what is it?
I love martial arts! I am a blue belt in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). After practicing Muay Thai for almost 10 years, I wanted to learn something completely new. I had no background in Wrestling or ground fighting so it was like learning a new instrument. It is incredibly humbling yet so rewarding at the same time. Just by practicing it you learn about mobility, anatomy, and problem solving. It trains your body as well as your mind, almost like a physical game of chess. I wish everyone would at least try BJJ. There is so much to gain from it and learn about yourself.
Kieling’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions:
Sierra, Grove Square Galleries, London
Sothebeez, Tribes Media, Berlin
Matter, Uli Fischer Galerie, Berlin
Christopher Kieling, Cornelia Walter Galerie, Munich.
Till The Wells Run Dry, MBzwo Showroom, Berlin
Kontrast, The Book Club, London.
National and international art fairs including
SIAF, Salzburg (2020)
ARTMUC, Munich (2017)
STROKE Art Fair, Munich (2016)
Kunstmesse Regensburg, Regensburg (2015)
BCN Art Fair, Barcelona (2014)
KUBOSHOW, Herne (2014)
In 2010 Kieling was the recipient of BarTur photography award and the University of the Arts London degree show CAN Audience Award.