Common People

about Tristan Pigott

It was around 1988, when Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker met the girl of one of his most famous hits, Common People. He was having a conversation with her at the bar at college because he was attracted to her, although he found some aspects of her personality unpleasant. He remembered that at one point she had told him she “wanted to move to Hackney and live like ‘the common people'”. The song is about those who were perceived by Jarvis as wanting to be “like common people” and who ascribe glamour to poverty. This is somewhat the feeling of attraction and repulsion I got, looking at the colors and subjects acting in Tristan Pigott’s paintings.

As he explains, his paintings convey how human ego is translated into image, by juxtaposing realistic painted figures before a surreal backdrop. The narcissism typically associated with portraiture is given a satirical undertone. His paintings playfully mock the importance we place on image and perception. The abstract composition of the work displays the difference between performance and reality. Alternatively, I illustrate details such as clothes and hair with realism to emphasise the importance my sitter, as well as the viewer, place in their own image.




The suggestion of action plays an important role in Tristan’s paintings. It provokes the viewer’s interpretation, as opposed to simple objectification, of the subject within their surroundings. Allowing him to develop his interest in the cyclical nature of everyday life, a reoccurring theme in his work. Every day actions such as eating and drinking mirror similarly habitual and automated psychological traits such as arrogance and anxiety.

These themes are portrayed using personal sources, playing on people’s characteristics, putting them in surreal narratives and showing the theatricality of the situation. Born in 1990 in Nantes, France, Tristan lives and works in London.






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