Hi and welcome to my website.
My name is Charlie Thompson and I am a sculptor based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
My main medium of sculpting is ridged polyurethane foam which I coat with various resins and paints to create the diversity of finishes you see here on my site.
Many of these surfaces are high-gloss automobile finishes that were inspired by a series of TV programmes featuring custom-built motorbikes and cars. These programmes also inspired me to move my focus from painting into sculpture and I have a collection of works in my Car Sculpture Gallery that represent this shift.
Juxtaposed to the car sculptures, my ‘heart’ art focuses on the Human Condition - emotion, expression and behaviour that reflect our state of being. I use the same glitzy automobile finishes along with organic form to express these ideas and thoughts and these are exhibited in my Life Commentaries Gallery.
The human condition, popular design and organic form are the unusual and diverse catalysts of my inspiration.
I have journeyed through much of my life in pursuit of self-conciliation and I am constantly provoked by the conundrums of my own emotions, expression and behaviour and hence those of people around me. Various aspects of the human condition have consequently become my muse and the combination of human form and emotional expression provide me with a rich font of inspiration.
As a trained graphic designer the simple hard-edged disciplines of two dimensional design have dictated much of my creative work-life. This has also engendered an appreciation of other popular design applications and the aesthetics of automobiles, motorbikes, consumer goods, interiors and lifestyles has spawned a desire to mimic their features in a fine art context. The forms, colours, surfaces and textures of manufactured materials and products are ever present in my creative thinking or process. My evolution into sculpture has enabled me to exploit these unusual aesthetic interests with a more satisfying precision.
In stark and surprising contrast I also have a visceral connection with organic form. There is an obvious association to my interest in the human condition but I am also motivated by the organic elements of flora and topography that lend themselves to both figurative and abstract interpretations.
Until relatively recently most of my artistic endeavour revolved around two-dimensional imagery manifested in graphic design, oil painting, drawing and print-making but my progression into sculpture has now brought a major shift to my expression. I have long ignored the gratifying process of creating objects with my hands and with this inclusion I sense that another piece of the jigsaw is now in place.
I also thrive on the drama and mood that can be created from the contrasts and expression achievable from colour, tone, texture, surface and form and while sculpture is my current focus I feel that there will come a time when elements of all these many variables will morph into a manner of expression that more closely represents my truth. This is The Mountain towards which I constantly strive.
How do you meld human behaviour, contemporary design and organic form into some sort of cohesive artistic direction? Add to this colour, expression and mood and the undertaking extrapolates further. Now add painting and sculpture into the mix and you get an idea of the bizarre and inspiring challenge with which I am faced.
Combining these unusual elements of hard-earned self-knowledge is an ongoing process and various combinations of these fragments are evident in my work today.
But how did this mishmash come about?
Until recently almost all my artistic activity entailed two-dimensional imagery and this was manifested in painting, drawing, print making and graphic design - which I studied and worked at for much of my life. For many years I have also harboured a subtle fascination with manufacturing and production and so my appreciation of graphic design filtered through into industrial and commercial design as well. I think this combination predisposed me to a major change in my art career without me really being aware of it.
The catalyst that brought it all about was a collection of reality TV programmes about custom built motorbikes and cars and the amazing ‘works of art’ they produced using an array of industrial techniques and finishes. While watching one of these programmes one day the proverbial penny dropped; I was meant to be producing these manufactured finishes as three-dimensional art works. This is what led me into sculpting and to the types of finishes I produce today. Not only has sculpting significantly expanded my artistic repertoire but it has also given me a long-term vision that I never had with painting.
The glossy, sharp finishes of my car sculptures mimic those of real cars and motorbikes and the works largely stimulate one on a visual and design level but it is the concepts and ideas surrounding the Human Condition that really entertain my inner being.
The search for equilibrium in my own life has generated a fascination with human emotion, expression and behaviour and it is the intrigues and complexities of our humanity that inspire many of my ideas. Combining these thoughts and insights with my new-found industrial finishes has been a creative revelation allowing me many unusual and unexpected executions.
Along with the glitzy industrial finishes though my long term interest in organic form also demands attention. Whether the influences are floral, topographical or anatomical I have a visceral need to include this in my work and the contrasting combination of these counterpoints afford me great creative opportunity.
While all these many variables may seem incompatible they are none-the-less an irrefutable part of who I am as an artist. The ultimate creative challenge is melding them in my hard-sought artistic truth.
Charlie Thompson is a sculptor who works primarily in Polyurethane foam which he coats and finishes with various resins and paints.
He was born in Swaziland in Southern Africa but grew up in what is now Zimbabwe. He lived in London, UK for more than a decade and currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He studied Graphic Design in Durban, South Africa at the Natal Technikon where he won the award for best final exam results. He has worked in advertising and design for most of his working life.
When Thompson lived in London he completed a Diploma in Fine and Applied Art - Painting and Drawing - through the London Guildhall University.
He has exhibited at The Wandsworth Town Hall in London and Bamboo Gallery in Melville, Johannesburg.
Thompson gave up full-time employment in 2011 in favour of a new career in fine art.