Under His Eye

Under His Eye

Designer and artist Patrick Church discusses with V his upcoming exhibit, his approach to artwork, and the production of his fashion line.

Designer and artist Patrick Church discusses with V his upcoming exhibit, his approach to artwork, and the production of his fashion line.

Text: Maxwell N. Burnstein

Shaved head and adorned in tattoos, Patrick Church floats through New York City with relative anonymity. However, his signature figures induce a frenzy amongst his cult following who covet the painted Birkins and fashion collection he’s famous for.

Church is rising as an American icon with colorful and expressive works that communicate emotional depth. Everyone can relate to the shocking vulnerability of the London native’s designs. Crying faces and candid slogans painted onto fashion pieces worn by style setters such as Kendall Jenner, SZA, Tinashe, Nyle DiMarco and Tan France.

Love for his husband Adriel and family define his artistic practice, using a combination of fashion and fine art to celebrate his deeply personal feelings. Church draws influence from his upbringing in high society and the regal lifestyle of his mother, recounting a childhood of soirées and designer gowns. Now based in Brooklyn, Church is using his artwork to chronicle the experiences that shape his newfound life.

Church has mastered the art of storytelling as the creative force behind a successful retail partnership with Opening Ceremony and a mini-collection, displayed as part of New York Men’s Fashion Week through The Standard - East Village. His next daring act at Toth Gallery in Manhattan’s lower east side will see Church’s first American art exhibition on September 7, 2018. The artworks will align with New York Fashion Week and showcase his first produced fashion line.

V Magazine sat down with Patrick Church to explore his matured approach to artwork, the evolution of his fashion line, and the pressures he’s facing as an emerging icon.

Instagram: patrickchurchny

Website: www.patrickchurchartist.com

Having moved, married and begun making your art in New York City, what has the last year meant to you?

This past year has felt like stepping into a dream in the way that you don’t question what’s possible in a dream. Falling in love with my husband (Adriel) and moving to New York within three months of meeting was the best decision of my life. It has rippled into so many beautiful things. I’m a different person, more fearless and infinitely kinder to myself. I have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to.

How have these experiences prepared you to take a more serious approach to your charismatic works? 

I had to break out of the monotony of my own thoughts. I didn’t realise this until I moved to New York where I had no friends, no professional contacts, just my husband and his encouragement. It forced me to look at who I was, and that I have the freedom to explore or disregard any creative path. I am less concerned about the perception of my work than the physical act of painting for my own approval.

How will the exhibit at Toth Gallery tell the story of love between your husband and you?

To say this exhibit describes the transformative journey of our love is true but misleading. I knew I wanted to be with him but that compulsion forced me into being vulnerable in a way that I have never been. For the first time I had something I wasn’t willing to lose and I had to compromise all these boundaries I put up to protect myself. That’s what I want to show.

Does presenting the new art exhibit and fashion collection to coincide with Fashion Week align with your artistic practice?

The opportunity to do a traditional show keeps presenting itself but at this moment it wouldn’t be true to the work or myself. I don’t want to create a traditional fashion moment. I am creating both (fashion and art) in parallel and it feels natural to show them together at the gallery because I am an artist first.  

Does the content differ between the mediums (fashion and fine artwork) in the show?

There is absolutely a difference between the fine art and fashion. While they speak from the same perspective they offer the opportunity to say vastly different things. 

In taking a more refined approach to creating the artwork and producing the fashion line, what can audiences expect to see?

This collection will be the first time I’ve produced pieces. It’s allowing me to explore fabrics that I couldn’t paint onto and share my themes in a much more technical way. 

Your mini collection at The Standard Hotel in July was absent of color, will we be seeing you go back to using kitsch and pop designs in the new works?

The mini-collection was a product of spending weeks drawing figurative nudes over and over again to prepare myself for the upcoming show at Toth Gallery. The next collection will be my most colourful garish collection yet.

Your paintings have an autobiographical quality, will this transcend into your new collection?

Everything I make has to have a personal point of view, otherwise it doesn’t feel relevant or important to me. I can’t connect with it.

Is the glamour of the new collection a reference to your mother and upbringing in England?

I think women are so powerful. My mother and her sister were the epitome of beauty and glamour. I was obsessed with the clothes they wore, their makeup at the dressing table, looking at all the designer clothes and wishing I could be them. Placing these memories into the new collection.

Are you expanding retail opportunities as you move from painting each piece to production with the new collection?

Opening Ceremony will continue to carry my clothing with more retailers to be announced soon. Not everything is being produced. I still do custom hand-painted pieces that stay true to what I have done from the beginning.

Do you see yourself as a separate entity from the artwork your produce?

I am my work and I don’t understand how people are able to separate themselves.

What do you want audiences to experience and take-away from the new works?

This work is very personal and my only hope is that it speaks to people in that same way.

Credits: Photographer: Matthew Tierney

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