SOUTHFIRST 60 N6th Street Brooklyn, NY 11211 www.southfirst.org
SOUTHFIRST gallery is proud to present SEPTEMBER, the gallery’s second exhibition of new paintings by Jesse Chapman. The show is on view from September 15 – October 22.
With an artist’s second show you tend to notice differences. The work here is a little larger than the paintings in Chapman’s first show at Southfirst (when he was the painting part of the two-person “Painting and Sculpture”). Chapman’s subject seems similar, though: the paintings focus thematically on minor gestures and incidents which seem to carry larger stories around with them, and focus technically on underpainting and compositional intricacy.
Something striking about this show is the rich, muted palate of the work, a hard-to-reproduce veritable forest glen of browns, greens and grays. Chapman said he thought people had more highly developed perceptual acuity when it comes to brown colors. He said this was from having foraged from the ground. I reminded him of Freud’s idea that verticality was linked to opticality: a direct consequence of the ability to stand might be a tendency to prize looking over touching.
Chapman’s paintings seem to be not about the optical, however, but about the defeat of the optical. There is an indistinction in his paintings between figure and ground, and his use of texture is often not bounded by form. He focuses on just those things which elude depiction -- tactility, narrative, the unphotographable angle, the irreproducible color. If his color comes from the idea of horizontal vision, which reminds us of perceptual origins far from gallery looking, then his uncanny vignettes of rigid figures rehearsing traumatic scenes (as in “The Shot,” or “The Etiquette Lesson”) or dissolving into the earth (ie “The Greek Miracle”) might work towards what has been called the death drive. Or this is one possibility.
Chapman has had solo shows recently at Shane Campbell gallery in Oak Park, Chicago, and at Medium, St. Barth. He is the subject of a catalog produced by Medium. He graduated in 2003 with an MFA in painting from Yale. He was born in Richland, Washington and lives and works in Brooklyn.
The opening will take place in conjunction with Williamsburgcelebrates.com, an evening of gallery openings and events across the neighborhood.
SOUTHFIRST is located at 60 N6th Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-6 PM and by appointment. Subway: L train to Bedford Avenue. For more information, please contact the gallery at 718 599 4884.