United Kingdom, 1948
Alan Charlton is an artist of few words. For many years he has presented his works in silence, with no explanations, no texts in his exhibition catalogues. Painting involves an act of visual perception and for him written and verbal language is a different activity. He has defined himself in nutshell: "I am an artist that makes a gray painting." His work does not harbour any intention other than to be painting and his purpose as an artist is, simply, to produce it. In 1969, when he was still attending art school, he decided to do a series of pictures with industrial materials. His idea was to do a picture with elements that could not be regarded as beautiful, but rather as ordinary or even boring. He chose planks of wood a standard 4.5 cm wide to make the stretcher (the measurement corresponds to the depth of the stretcher) and industrial paint to paint each picture in a single colour. The result was a work that left no room for any kind of illusionism, a painting that only contained what could be seen. Since then he has strictly used gray because it is the most industrial, the most urban, the least artistic colour and the one which can conjure up the fewest associations, and he has continued to use the 4.5 cm measurement as a module that gives proportion to his paintings. The ideas of production and work are fundamental to his practice. Charlton, who defines himself as an artist who produces paintings, understands that the artist's job is just one more in our society. That is why he decided that he wanted to work with the same anonymous attitude as anyone living and working in London. He rented a studio far from his home and there he goes to work every day with working hours that end at five o'clock. Over his thirty years of activity, his painting has remained practically unchanged. When he has been labelled a monochrome painter, he has replied: "I don't paint a picture. I don't paint monochromes. I am an artist and I decide to make a painting". His decision is still to make gray painting. "If I decide that I have saturated the idea of making gray paintings or that I am not interested in gray paintings, I would not continue as an artist in another way. That would be my job completed. I would not be unhappy if that happened."