Somerset-based Bucklows’ approach to his subject matter is multi-layered: utilising photography, drawing and video as the need arises. In their simplicity and directness, his photographic techniques are more akin to that of the pioneers of the exploratory processes of the 19th century than to more conventional and contemporary practices, incorporating elements of astronomy, chemistry and alchemy. This can be seen, for example, in the exquisite and unique pinhole, life-size colour portraits of his ongoing Guest and Tetrarch series.
Bucklow’s photographs are produced using an extremely large multiple-aperture pinhole camera to achieve a galaxy of images of the sun – a ‘solar body’ – in a life-size portrait. Both the Guest and the Tetrarch series are intended to be viewed as a collective self-portrait, portraying a group of individuals, spiritual friends and foes, whose combined characters reflect a multi-faceted image of Bucklow himself. The subjects in these works are portraits of Bucklow’s own interior in which he explains the importance of the selection of his subjects: “It’s like a cast of characters in a film. I think I was casting for my ‘film’ even before I knew that I was about to launch out on a narrative.”
These enigmatic and ethereal portraits demand attention simply through their intensity of colour and light, provoking notions of creation with a breathtaking celestial presence. Bucklow’s spectral ‘Guests’… are responses to the unanswerable questions concerning life’s beginnings and ends, and the enigma of its vital spark. Jeffrey Fraenkel.
If Guest is a cast of internal characters, the Tetrarch, pieces on an even larger scale, attempts to suggest the dynamic narrative of their interaction within the Bucklow psyche. These impressive works combine several of the Guest characters in one powerful piece. In both series, ostensibly portraits of family, friends and foes, the work is unashamedly autobiographical and narrative based. In the Tetrarch series Bucklow explains: “The project – my life – has been a regrouping of all these fissioned split areas, whether I knew it or not, that’s what was going on.” It refers to his specific life, how he works, and what he is made of – “Forms I have been, Forms that live in me now, and Forms I desire to become.”
Bucklow has exhibited widely internationally, and his work is included in many key international collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; the Museum of Fine Art, San Francisco; Herzliya Museum of Art, Israel; Phoenix Art Museum; High Museum, Atlanta, USA; and the British Council, to name but a few.
Bucklow was the first of the British Museum’s ‘Artist in Residence’ in 2002- 2003, in London. In 2004 he was ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Centre for Studies in British Romanticism in Grasmere, England.
As well as being an acclaimed artist, Bucklow is widely published and in 2004 there was also a monograph published titled Christopher Bucklow: Guest, by Blindspot Publications, New York