Breaking the Rules: An Interview with Chris Succo

Alexandra Olczak

21 Jun 2016
We caught up with artist Chris Succo to hear about the inspiration behind his recent edition and his memories of the ICA.

To celebrate the ICA's 70th anniversary this year, artist Chris Succo produced a special edition Shameless is a Talent (Pacific Ocean Blue). Alexandra Olczak caught up with him to hear about his memories of the ICA and the inspiration behind his work.

You’ve mentioned before that London has been like a “second home” to you since you graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2012. What was your first encounter with the ICA?

We have close family friends in London so I've been coming here since I was a kid and always had the desire to stay longer. The MFA at the Royal College of Art was a great opportunity. Probably the first encounter I remember was passing the ICA on a stroll with a friend a long time ago. We went in to have a look but I can't recall which show was on. Now I try to go and see the programme every time I'm in town.

Your practice spans sculpture and photography as well as painting. How does this edition relate to your artistic practice overall? What appeals to you about silkscreen printing as a medium?

Before studying at the Kunstakademie I was mostly interested in painting and analogue photography. Georg Herold encouraged me to try everything out so I experimented with sculpture, large format analogue photographic prints and different printing methods among other things. Having learned the various processes now allows me to have a broad range for my decisions and helped define my interest in a core palette of materials. Silkscreening is, if you break the rules a bit, very strong and immediate.

Your three-colour silkscreen print edition has an incredible amount of depth to it – the splashes of vivid aquamarine blue dotted across the surface are particularly engaging. How did this composition come about? Does the title carry a particular significance?

The composition comes from a drawing for new paintings. The idea was to bring the drip marks and splashes from spray paint and thinned paint which are normally part of the first layer of a painting from that series to the foreground. Colouring these marks makes them the most prominent part of the composition. The first part of the title is the title of one of the first pantings from that series, the second part is a nod to my recent time in Los Angeles, to the Dennis Wilson album of the same name and of course to the colour blue. 

Do you think artists have a responsibility to promote and support the development of the arts internationally, as well as public arts institutions? What motivated you to contribute to the ICA’s 70th anniversary celebrations?

An artist's responsibly is first of all his or her work and every progressing artist is naturally promoting and supporting the development of the arts. It's great if an artist has a connection of any kind to an institution and has the resources or chance to support it. The ICA was an important part of my time in London and I'm happy to contribute to the celebrations.

What do you hope audiences will take from your work?

It really depends on the show they're seeing but I hope they can relate to the work emotionally and come back to have another look. ■