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Booming figurative painter Dominic Chambers joins Lehmann Maupin – ARTnews.com

By on November 11, 2021 0


Dominic Chambers believes in personal care. The burgeoning figurative painter has been recognized for his vast canvases in which the mundane and the magical converge. In a youthful work, a woman seated on a sofa is absorbed by a book; the sofa floats along an abstract blue background reminiscent of a tumultuous river. The themes of leisure and black intellectualism run through his paintings.

“It’s important to present black people in states other than distress and resistance,” Chambers said.

After graduating from Yale’s Master of Fine Arts program in 2019, Chambers has had a busy two years. He had his first solo institutional exhibition at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center in 2020, followed by a solo presentation last September at the Luce Gallery in Turin, Italy. This year he was also featured on Forbeson the “30 Under 30” list as one of the most exciting emerging artists of his generation.

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Now Chambers has a new representation through Lehmann Maupin, a global company with galleries in New York, Hong Kong, Seoul and London. Chambers joins other recent additions to the gallery’s roster – Chantal Joffe, Tom Friedman, Arcmanoro Niles, and Calida Rawles – and, at 28, the St. Louis native is the youngest artist on the gallery’s program.

“In rich surfaces worked over time, Dominic creates imaginary spaces for his characters that allow us to reimagine the subjects, and in turn, grant them a particular autonomy”, said David Maupin, co-founder of Lehmann Maupin, in a statement.. “His interest in color theory ties him to canon as he seeks to push the limits of his medium and broaden the scope of his own practice.”

Chambers first exhibited his work with the gallery at Frieze New York earlier this year, and his latest large-scale series of paintings, titled “Shadow Paintings,” will debut next month at Art Basel Miami Beach. His first solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin is scheduled for spring 2022.

The “Shadow Paintings” mark a break with his earlier work, which tended towards exuberantly colored portraits of the artist’s peers. In the new self-portraits, Chamber’s face is moved away from the viewer, looking towards a sort of void. A specter hangs from his shoulder; Chambers raises his hand behind him to greet him.

'Shadow Work (On Letting Go)', 2021 (studio shooting in progress).

Dominique Chambers, Shadow work (on letting go), 2021.
Photo by Daniel Kukla Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Hong Kong, Seoul and London

In psychology, the “shadow self” is the part of the personality suppressed by the conscious self, often because it is difficult. Chambers had ample time to contemplate his “shadow self” as he was confined during lockdown at his longtime home in New Haven, Connecticut, with only his dog and self-reflection for company.

“During such loneliness, you are going to find out if you like who is looking at you in the mirror,” he said. “For a long time I thought of painting as an intellectual activity, but it became part of my healing.

Chambers is a voracious reader and the literary and historical references of art lie at the heart of his practice. His series “After Albers” dialogues with the founding book by Josef Albers Color interactions. Chambers painted his subjects in bold fields of color, applying one of Albers’ central ideas – that the perception of color is relative to his circumstances – to the experience of black Americans. “If I go to the southern United States, I’m treated a certain way,” Chambers said. “If I have traveled to Africa, I am an American, again on the outs.”

Johannes Vermeer is another influence on Chambers’ shadow portraits. Vermeer was known for his sensitivity to the inner lives of his subjects and refused to fully deliver them to the viewer, instead alluding to their desires through innocuous details – a painting on a wall, a well-typed letter, a window open to the sun. .

In each portrait, Chambers’ fingernails are painted a shade of pale blue known as “haint blue,” which was used by African slaves and their descendants in the southern United States to ward off evil spirits. The color blue was intended to mimic the appearance of the sky or the sea, which none of the ghosts could cross.

Another influence is On Earth we are briefly beautiful, the semi-autobiographical novel by Vietnamese-born American writer Ocean Vuong. In a scene straight out of a Vermeer, Chambers read the book silently beside his open window. Vuong’s story stayed in his mind as he painted, and although their biographies were different, he felt that he shared with the author a desire to paint himself.

“At that time, I was concerned with memory, reflection and reconciliation,” Chambers said. “This series will last as long as it takes me to navigate these issues. It could be long, long. “


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