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A New Partnership with Gitterman Gallery


February 6 – March 23, 2019

Opening reception with the artist
Wednesday, February 6, 6–8 pm

The Explorers #34, Pigment print scratched with a razor, 24”x36”, 2018

The Explorers #34, Pigment print scratched with a razor, 24”x36”, 2018

Gitterman Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of contemporary work by Christopher Russell. The exhibition opens on Wednesday, February 6th from 6–8 p.m. and continues through Saturday, March 23rd.  
This exhibition is Christopher Russell’s first at the gallery and the beginning of his representation by Gitterman Gallery. It will include a selection of work from Russell’s “Mountains” series (2016–2017) as well as works from his more recent series, “The Explorers.” Each piece is unique and combines color photography and drawing. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Russell has long been taken with the majesty of Carleton Watkins who photographed in that area and others 150 years ago. Russell photographs in some of the same land but from the opposite end of the history of photography. He makes fuzzy or hazy color photographs by limiting the functionality of the lens. The resulting abstract images form the foundation for his own imaginary vistas. He then manipulates the resulting prints, scratching into the emulsion, and sometimes painting over the scratches, creating an artwork that is at once a photograph, a drawing, a painting and a bas-relief.
Russell’s work challenges the traditional conception of photography as producer of evidence, and provokes reflection on our understanding of nature and the landscape. He uses historical plant and floral patterns from the Arts and Crafts era of the late 19th to the early 20th Century as source material for his drawing, and thus alludes to the concept of the infinite within nature. Though he pushes conceptual and art historical boundaries, Russell remains a Romanic and his artwork is a way for the viewer to experience the wonder that he has found, and that continues to inspire him.
Chistopher Russell was born in Sacramento in 1974 and received a BFA from The California College of Arts and Crafts and an MFA from the Art Center College of Design. He has had a solo exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and his work has been featured in group exhibitions at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Norton Simon Museum, Berkeley Art Museum Museum, Armory Center for the Arts, White Columns, Tokyo Institute of Photography, and De Appel Arts Center, The Netherlands, among others. Russell also produces his own unique books in addition to his 'zine Bedwetter. His first novel is Sniper, and other books include Budget Decadence (2nd Cannons Publications), Pattern Book (Insert Blanc Press) and Landscape (Kolapsomal Press) which was included in Phaidon's The Photobook: A History Vol 3 edited by Martin Parr. His work is included in numerous museum collections including the Brooklyn Museum, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, Los Angeles County Museum, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Hammer Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Teeth and Consequence

I have co-organized an exhibition at Private Places in Portland, Oregon with my friend, the artist Bobbi Woods. The exhibition includes work by M. Page Greene, Heidi Schwegler, Dennis Cooper, sweaterqueens and myself. The following is the statement for the exhibition and documentation. Dnnis Cooper's GIF novel is an interactive piece and doesn't come across well in the photographs, but you can experience it on your own screen here. The text-based wallpapers are my work that were collected into a volume titled Pattern Book that can be purchased here.


Teeth and Consequence

Dennis Cooper, M. Page Greene, Christopher Russell, Heidi Schwegler, sweaterqueens,

Organized by Christopher Russell and Bobbi Woods

July 15 - September 13
2400 NE Holladay Street Portland OR 97232


I give the name violence to a boldness lying idle and hankering for danger. It can be seen in a look, a walk, a smile, and it’s in you that it stirs. It unnerves you. This violence is a calm that disturbs you. — Jean Genet

La violence is a raw expression of humanity, directed by psychological cues that one scarcely understands, an emotion fraught with teeth and consequence. Genet’s relationships were complicated, encompassing and destructive, yet within this minefield he possessed a profound self-awareness. La violence is the flawed humanity of the person, the sum total of compassion and arrogance, generosity and brutality, the capacity to elevate as well as devastate. This mess of emotion has everything to do with how and whom we accept into our lives. La violence stands against the childish simplicity of political platitudes that has come to populate suburban lawn signs and gallery walls. La violence is grounded in a reality of weakness, failing and personal profundity; it stands distinct from the kitsch notion of love.

Genet’s intensity is especially difficult to understand against social media’s encompassing world of empty symbolism. Language develops at such a rate that words enter wide usage only to disappear in a few years, if not months. This speed has defined the rate at which culture moves and evolves. Centuries-long struggles enter political discussion only to have their participants made into caricatures—piteous by the left and ridiculous by the right; not venerated for their humanity, but reduced to a slogan, a cause trimmed to fit an empty phrase, a cliche adorned in the patina of political resistance. That emptiness makes struggle and marginalization co-optable, absorbed into the disposable cycles of fashion. It’s no accident that within a year of Donald Trump’s election, after “love wins” became a national rallying cry, that Gucci began selling “Love is Blind” merchandise. Raf Simons and Fendi also introduced garish declarations of “Love” while Commes Des Garçons produced a line of heart emblazoned clothing. The movement for so-called safe spaces echoes this appropriation of agency, positing marginalized people as incapable of navigating a world that has, ironically, left them with much thicker skin than their self-appointed champions.

This exhibition considers Genet, Sartre’s patron saint of existentialism, as a partial antidote to a polarized, yet increasingly hollow political awareness. When you make a decision, you make it for the entire world. This was Sartre’s idea for a secularized ethic: embrace the golden rule while discarding the vast network of loopholes embedded within the gilded bureaucracy of religion. It proposed a path away from Postwar European depression, and might work to dissuade us of a peculiar fetishism that offers political pleasure by infantilizing the marginalized other while ignoring one’s own violence.


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New Web Site, New Shows

Welcome to the new web site. I moved to a new system that allows me to update galleries and submit blog entries without the assistance of my trusty, but now fully employed, web guy. I hope that this makes my blog a more dynamic experience for both myself and for people interested in my work.



Cut! Paper Play in Contemporary Photography

J.P. Getty Museum

February 27 - May 27

The Getty selected works from the last ten years to include in Cut! Paper Play in Contemporary Photography


Way Bay

Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive

January 17-June 3

The Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive is exhibiting selections from Landscape, documentary work I made in 1996-1997


The Explorers

Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angleles

February 24–April 21

The Explorers is a solo exhibition with Von Lintel Gallery in Los Angeles in which I explore techniques I've developed over the last 15 years: scratching drawings into the photographic surface, painting on top of the photograph, creating shadow play with scratches in the glazing and folding the image to make a more dynamic viewing experience.


Christopher Russell has been awarded Career Opportunity Grants from both the Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation.





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The Explorers #18 (Detail).jpg