CS Coates & Scarry

Christian Rex van Minnen


Q: Where are you from?
I was born in Providence Rhode Island, grew up in Colorado and have lived in the Western US for most my life.



Q: What is the inspiration for your work?
Habit, vanity, mystery, my fellow painters, markets, spirituality, Surrealism, Giger, cryin like a bitch, biology, violence, investigations into ‘Old Masters’ methods and materials, pop culture, anthropology, The Internet, comics, racism, natural sciences, alchemy, Jacque Cousteau, Johnny Cash, Joseph Campbell.


Q: Did you go to Art school?
I went to Regis University, a liberal arts school in Denver CO where I received a BA Fine Arts. 

Q: What is the process in creating one of your paintings?
I generally use portraiture or still-life as a conceptual/physical framework to begin with. I like to create forms from both expressive brush work and careful interruptions that compliments and contrasts within the composition. Whether an abstraction or something representational, all forms and space are dragged through a division of labor that includes under painting, grisaille and glazing.  I fight myself pretty much the whole way through and try to stay close that edge between sincerity and the absurd. I try to stay intimate with what’s awkward in each piece and nourish that as I go.


Q: What is it that attracts you most towards abstractive figuration?
I am attracted to contradiction and the paradoxical. It’s also a process that is well suited to moodiness. If I had to wait around to have a great idea to paint I’d never get anything done. I trust that there is infinite mystery right there in the wet paint and in the space between your eyes and that paint and if you’re aware of it it’d lead you places.


Q: The grotesqueries of your work seem to invite the viewer to deliberate many current societal ailments and issues, do you intentionally create work with specific objectives in mind or is the work more instinctual?
It’s a balance of both of those things. They are portraits or still-lives so immediately you, the viewer, is going to interact or communicate with it in a very specific way- it’s sort of a conditioned response. They are styles that communicate in a specific way, and in my work they communicate a sort of charged ambiguity that leaves the conversation open.


Q: There is a malleable feel to your work – do you ever work in 3D mediums such as clay? 
I’ve experimented with clay and other 3D media in the past. I went through a period of excessive mask-making. Because my wife and I have moved around so much over the past several years that a painting studio is really all that’s been practical. I’m also just really obsessed with painting and with pictures. Painting is mysterious and seductive.


Q: What are you working on at the moment?
The usual pile of paintings. I work on a dozen or so at a time, all the time and sometimes some of them get finished. I have to let pieces dry for days at a time so I always have something I can work on- something that’s going to take some calm, focused-time or something that I can be more aggressive with, and everything in-between.


Q: what is your studio like?
an extra bedroom covered in plastic with a tarp on the floor, box fan secured into window with tape, a certain inevitable terracing of paints, palettes and brushes, hanging wires with cans lights,  dozens of paintings facing the wall, dozens of empty kombucha bottles, coffee cups, dead bugs, sealed-for-eternity leftover oatmeal and bowl, books on Dutch Golden Age paintings, shipping supplies, shipping supplies, shipping supplies, latex gloves EVERYWHERE. It’s a mess. I hope to settle down some day and have a nice, regular studio.


Q: What do you do to relax and kick back?
Journeys into the desert and wilderness, read some, eat salsa, paint, walk around.


Q: If you could change one thing about your world what would it be?
Put the buffalo back on the prairie and put an end to stink-eye.


Q: If you could own any piece of art in the world what would it be and why?
A ‘Sumptuous Still-Life” piece by Jans Davidsz. De Heem. I could look at those paintings for hours.


Q: If not an artist then what would you have been?
A mean-spirited motherfucker.


Q: What is your most treasured possession?
1993 Subaru Legacy, GL.


Q: What do you like most about yourself?
My wife.


Q: Tell us about your pieces for 'Unnatural- Natural History' group show this summer at the Royal Academy West of England or for short the RWA and why you decided to be part of the show?
Well, there’s one portrait and one still-life, “V Diamonds” and “Unstill life”. As paradigms shift, words like ‘’unnatural’, 'natural’ and ‘history’ shift as well.  I was attracted to the show’s theme and concept as I’m also interested in visual contrasts between what is perceived as natural and unnatural.


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