Lucky Us: Our Cool 13
Landmarks can't talk. Parks can't paint. Custard can't dance. What makes a city cool? The people who live there. Here are 13 St. Louisans we consider highly cool—in every sense of the word.
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Frankly BrilliantChristopher Paquet, Artist
He has an M.F.A. from Goldsmiths, the most notorious art school in Britain, alma mater of Damien Hirst and Vivienne Westwood. He showed last year at Frieze: The Zoo, a younger, edgier offshoot of Britain’s biggest art fair; is on the roster of London gallery Bearspace; and, last fall, was one of 16 young painters to be included in a 2007 Goldsmiths survey at the White Box gallery in New York (the show inspired Time Out New York to proclaim him a “feisty young talent”).
But we don’t want to use these glittering facts to obscure Christopher Paquet’s actual paintings, which are already in the collections of London’s Ernst & Young and New York gallery owner Lawrence O’Hana. Like Banks Violette’s, Paquet’s work taps into the unabashed sincerity of rock—but despite his great affection for Headbangers Ball and Russian criminal tattoo art, he doesn’t pay homage to the tarry earnestness of Swedish black metal by literally making art about music. Instead, Paquet applies that fearless heart-on-sleeve aesthetic to unsettling and beautiful paintings filled with “personal totems”: hoofed creatures, blood oranges, pyramids, diamonds. Right now he’s painting with a mix of paint and caulk to almost three-dimensional effect—an approach he describes as “a bit wonky ... but I go for that, that awkwardness.
“Art, especially out of Goldsmiths and out of London, it’s been about ‘Oh, that’s a clever idea,’” he continues, “but I can’t make art like that. I like things that have soul.”
This morning, Paquet’s not in London, but sitting in O’Malley’s pub with a stout and a smoke, proclaiming his affection for St. Louis (“I have ‘314’ tattooed on my neck”). The pub’s across the street from his Cherokee-Lemp studio, where he’ll be working until he heads back to New York this fall to take advantage of a $4,000 scholarship to the Pratt Institute.
“Once I get established in New York, I’m planning on coming back here and rehabbing a house and making St. Louis my home base. I can make artwork way cheaper here than I could in New York ... and,” he adds, laughing, “I don’t know if I can deal with being away from McGurk’s for too terribly long.”