Chris Drange, who studied with Anselm Reyle in Hamburg, does not paint any of his work himself. He often has to tolerate comparisons with Richard Prince, since he has also been working with selfies from influencers on Instagram for years. But that is the only thing that connects Prince and Drange. Unlike Prince, Drange is not primarily interested in the act of appropriation. “Appropriation is the basis of my work, but not its subject,” Drange says. He is interested in playing on authorship and authenticity, which he continues in the medium of painting.
Where there is no longer an original, painting also turns into a fake and a copy. Drange selects photos of influencers such as Kylie and Kendall Jenner on Instagram. He creates a simplified yet precise composition on his computer, which is then enlarged to its final size by another computer at a machine learning company in Lithuania. The file produced in Lithuania serves as a blueprint for a Chinese manufactory for oil painting that finally paints, in consultation with Drange, the portrait on a canvas and sends it to Germany. In this manner, at times monumental photorealist paintings are produced for the exhibition space. Yet the paintings are also littered with kitschy emojis such as hearts, butterflies, and unicorns. They thereby point to their origin in the digital world.
Drange understands his works as allegories of youth and beauty, but also of transience. At the beginning of the 15th century it was suddenly not only saints and kings who were worthy of a picture, normal citizens who could afford it commissioned artists to paint their portraits. Even then, the portrait had to fit the image and fulfill the wish to make the sitter look better than irl. The portrait ensured presence and duration, the sitter was supposed to stay after death. So while Richard Prince uses the influencers' selfies for his own purposes, Drange exaggerates them in the medium of painting. And all of this without an order.
Many of Chris Drange’s Instagram followers think he is a woman.
Chris Drange has never watched KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS.
Chris Drange was heavily criticized by professors for being a sexist and anti painter.
Chris Drange Is colorblind.
Chris Drange started out as a photographer and graphic designer.
Chris Drange worked as a mover while studying in New York.
Chris Drange gets up at 2 AM to talk to China.
Chris Drange’s grandmother was his art teacher in school.
The painting he currently sold for the most is the one he likes least.
Chris Drange works as a software developer.
Kylie Jenner, the 23-year-old influencer from the Kardashian clan, made her fortune by selling cosmetics. “It's the power of social media.” This is how Jenner explains her success, because she herself promotes her products on Instagram. Young women become entrepreneurs and brands, they advertise what brings in advertising money, be it luxury items or detox tea. “In the past, worshiping relics promised healing. Today, however, we no longer have healing problems, but rather validity problems,” says Drange.
Loren with Cherry Blossoms & Skulls (Detail), 2019, oil on canvas, 135 x 135 cm
Helen with Unicorns (Detail), 2019, oil on canvas, 114 x 90 cm
Kylie with Green Heart (Detail), 2019, oil on canvas, 135 x 135 cm