By Jessica Jones
Christopher St. Leger was studying architecture in Hungary when he first contemplated a painting career. The Indiana native was invited to Budapest by friends in 1997 and immediately identified with what he describes as the city’s introverted culture and its deep appreciation for the arts. “They revere painters and poets,” says St. Leger. “I was able to blend in, which was what I was looking for—the foreign experience from the inside.”
The artist spent nearly five years in Hungary, drawing daily on the city’s streets, supporting himself with odd jobs, and studying painting with fellow artists. “I developed more of a work ethic,” he says. “Otherwise, painting may have been an escape rather than a career.”
He was particularly interested in the watercolors he saw during his time abroad—the modernist style of Ian Potts and Gottfried Salzmann’s “refusal to be neat and tidy and controlled,” he says.
The artist’s own representational watercolors often focus on architecture and cityscapes. Upon returning home, St. Leger became fascinated with “the urban context, the different way we inhabit space,” he says. His paintings ask questions about how we find beauty in contemporary settings and how we connect with our surroundings as Americans, he explains. He also finds inspiration in his current home of Austin, TX: “Texas is kind of its own country, a small nation with its own culture and economy.” St. Leger is represented by McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX; Davis Gallery & Framing, Austin, TX; and www.christopherstleger.com.
Featured in “Artists to Watch” August 2006