An Interview with the British Artist Tristan Pigott at Cob Galleries in Camden, London

By Flora Alexandra Ogilvy

By Flora Alexandra Ogilvy

The British painter Tristan Pigott and I met after an art dealer jotted his name in my journal at a party. A few weeks later we met at Shoreditch House for pots of tea and discussed his interest in embracing technological developments as an artist. Tristan grew up in Brighton, but studied at Wimbledon Art School and then Camberwell Art School in London where he thrived on the freedom to develop his own personal style. Although you’d be more likely to hear him praising the wonders of 3D printers than his personal achievements, his artwork has previously been displayed at both the Royal Academy’s summer exhibition and the BP Portrait Award as well as venturing to the New Contemporaries show in Lagos, Nigeria.


Working out of his Cob Galleries space, Tristan juxtaposes realistic painted figures before a surreal backdrop, conveying how the human ego can be translated into an image. His subject matter explores the cyclical nature of everyday life within which everyday actions like eating and drinking mirror similarly automated psychological traits like arrogance and anxiety. As he experiments with both painting and installation his work playfully mocks the importance we place on image and perception. Entwined in his portraits are contemporary motifs like iPhones and bags of Monster Munch crisps, which combine with the brushwork to question the relevance of tradition in contemporary society and within the evolution of oil painting. Within his unique work the narcissism associated with portraiture is dealt a satirical undertone.


Tristan aligns with the German principle of Gesantkunstwerk - which means the total ‘work of art’ – as he embraces technological developments and incorporates cutting edge 3D printing into the framing of his work. His paintings draw from artists like David Hockney, Lucian and even Hieronymous Bosch, but it’s the innovation of conceptual artists like Ryan Gander, which is arguably more influential. Alongside a flock of other emerging artists, Tristan works out of his Cob Gallery studio space where he is co-curating a show with curator Alex Glover in May 2016. His work will also be part of the MTArt Hyperion show opening in New York on 6th May. Follow Tristan on Instagram @tristanpigott, there’s a lot more to come. 

Contrary Mary , 26 x 34 inches, Oil on Linen 

Contrary Mary, 26 x 34 inches, Oil on Linen 


Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your passion?

I wouldn’t say that it was a pivotal moment, but applying to art college was a good start.


Can you tell us about the process behind the making of your work? 

It depends on what I’m making. Lately, I’ve been trying to make smaller, quicker pieces that don’t rely heavily on my own style or technique. Process can lead to comfort, and I personally think it can get quite boring seeing an artist repeating themselves over and over. 


What piece of your work would you like to be remembered for?

Ha - I really don’t think it would be the worst thing to be forgotten. 


If you could be born in another period of history, when would it be?

I know the future doesn’t count, but I really wouldn’t want to live in the past. I’m excited to see where music, film and art are all going, whereas you’ll always be able to pick the best of the past.


CAD , 70 x 82cm, Oil Paint

CAD, 70 x 82cm, Oil Paint


How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?

beauty ˈbjuːti/ noun

1. a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.

"I was struck by her beauty

2. a beautiful or pleasing thing or person, in particular: 

adjective AUSTRALIAN/NZinformal

1. good; excellent (used as a general term of approval).


Do you have a favourite book, film or painting, which inspires you?

I’m reading Milan Kundera’s Immortality at the moment, his books are always super interesting. Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov is a favourite too. I also recently saw some De Kooning paintings at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam which where pretty amazing. 


Do you find that London’s culture inspires or influences your art?

It’s hard not to be influenced by the city you live in. Generally, I’m pretty open to getting ideas from anything I do/anywhere I am. I did just buy a Tate membership card, which could be seen as an investment.


What is your greatest indulgence in life?

Dried Mango.


Afternoon Delight , 12 x 28cm, Oil on Linen

Afternoon Delight, 12 x 28cm, Oil on Linen


What fictional character from literature or film would you like to meet?

Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey seems like he knows how to have a laugh.


Do you believe that true creative expression can exist in the digital world?

Yes, I do. 


What do you wish every child were taught?

Psychology, because most people are freaks.


 Do you believe that true creative expression can exist in the digital world?

I’d be surprised if anyone said no to this. There are loads of exciting artists using digital media, Charles Richardson being one example.  I'm interested by what new questions technology can bring up such as ownership and authorship. Hopefully the 3D printed painting I’ve just created - that’s made out of 15 pieces creating a jigsaw-esque triptych - will question what painting can do for us today. 


A Couple , 31.5 x 47.5 inches, oil on linen 

A Couple, 31.5 x 47.5 inches, oil on linen 


Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?

I wouldn't really call painting a career, but I do tend to question the relevance of painting most days.


What is your favourite art gallery and why?

The Museo del Prado in Madrid, because three of Rubens's paintings are in the same room; Three Graces, Saturn Devouring his Son and Birth of the Milkyway. It also has some great El Greco and Francisco Goya works. 


Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?

The British conceptual artist Ryan Gander, because you can’t pin him down so whatever happened would be super interesting.



What is your daily routine when working?

A lot of painting with small breaks for dried mango.


What has been your most inspiring travel experience?

I spent 50 minutes in Birmingham at the weekend, which was inspirational in ways. 


What advice would you give to a young person following in your footsteps?

Many have done it before, so why can't you?



Why do you love what you do?

The freedom is pretty great. 


'Hyperion' will be presented by MTArt at 119 E 17th Street, New York from 6-10th May 2016

Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of