At first glance, you could easily mistake his work as Instagram snapshots with a posterised-style #filter. Look again and you’ll realise that these pieces by Tristan Pigott are, in fact, a counter-reaction to the instantaneous nature of imagery in today’s culture. We chat with the man behind the oil paints to find out more.


How did you first discover your talent and passion for painting? Have you always been arty or was it something that developed as you grew up?

—My dad is a painter, so it always seemed a natural thing to do.

Your work has been described as “paintings for the Instagram generation”; what initially made you explore this style of ‘snapshot’ painting?

—Historically, portrait painters would often edit and flatter their sitter – Instagram has allowed anyone to project an idolised version of
themselves. My aim is to poke fun at this new narcissism. I had a tutor at art college who had a lot of work destroyed in a fire and he said, with irony, that it was no loss as he had photos of them, and most artists paint for their websites these days. Ego is seemingly more important than art!

Are the pieces you create based on photographs of real moments you’ve experienced or entirely imagined scenarios?

—I work from photos and imagination. Action plays a large role in my paintings, in order to provoke the viewer’s interpretation – as apposed to objectification – of the subject.

Your work is hypnotically hyper-realistic and a similar colour flows between the pieces. Is there any reason in particular why you chose subdued shades for otherwise quite striking images?

—Despite the strangeness of the scenes and settings the narratives are all based in reality – in the sense they could all occur. The more abstract backgrounds are there to draw attention to the two dimensionality of the paintings. I don’t want to deceive.

What inspires you, creatively and generally?

—I haven’t quite pinned it down yet, I’m pretty sure it’s anything, though some things can become distracting, like friends.

If you could paint any one subject or scene, what would it be? What’s the dream project?

—I’m actually in the process of putting together a group show next year at the Cob Gallery. It will consist of abstract painters and conceptual artists – the general narrative of the show is looking at nature vs nurture in respect to an artist’s development. It’s very different from my work, so should be interesting!