Philip Clairmont


Fireplace by Philip Clairmont

Artwork Detail

Mysteries of hypnotic heat; hallucinations of decorated furniture contorting into new shapes; a demonic fairground hall of mirrors terrorising its captive audience. The associations are all there in this weird nocturnal tapestry. Fireplace is purple-passage, expressive surrealism at its most feral and feverish. Its lurid, bubbling decay, bright eyes of detail and illuminated doodling recall the Albright brothers, Gordon Matta and Miro. This painting started life as Couch, chair and ash tray, originally installed with another fireplace painting in the 15 Jellies nightclub in Christchurch. The artist had to use fireproof paint because of the club's fire regulations. There was in fact a fire in the club, but Clairmont's paintings survived and the couch painting was reworked as a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. The Hendrix lyric 'I used to live in a room full of mirrors' is just legible across the arcing mantelpiece. 'I can hear my train coming' is picked out in red wisps coming through the perforated grate like a lighting effect in a horror movie. Clairmont had been particularly taken with the beautiful fireplaces surrounded by decorated tiles in the old wooden Victorian houses in which he lived. His paintings most often subject domestic objects and interiors to a sustained assault through kaleidoscopic fragmentation and overlay, flickering highlights, twisted contours and acidic, iridescent colouring. Loving embellishment follows violent distortion in his work. (from The Guide, 2001)

Philip Clairmont
Production date
oil and acrylic on hessian
1830 x 3200 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1974
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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