Opening reception Thursday June 12, 6 – 8pm
Josée Bienvenu is pleased to present Paul Chiappe’s first one-person show in New York. The exhibition consists of ten new pencil drawings. This new body of work stems from an interest in religious imagery and questions the relationship between adults and children in the Catholic faith. They are also a reflection on some of the peculiarities and difficulties within Catholicism and religion in general. Photographs sourced from Google are the starting point, depicting individuals participating in the Catholic faith. The final drawings are, to varying degrees, reworked fictional versions.
The intricate drawings could be mistaken for vintage photographs, of the kind often discovered in dusty cardboard boxes of a thrift store’s back room. Yet the Edinburgh-based artist finds his source images on the internet, and his process could not be more remote from photographic instantaneity. His practice has little to do with photorealism, it is much more concerned with translation – from one object to the next, from a pixelated shot to pencil on paper. The small-scale drawings take months to make and are executed without any of the grids and magnifying glasses that form the usual photorealist tool kit. Lately he has been focusing on sharpness and blur. The works bring the viewer out of focus with extreme attention. Each drawing is finely tuned to the desired level of imprecision. The pictures function like memories, the faulty re-creations of a time long gone.
At every stage Chiappe searches and senses the photograph for subtleties of light and shade on surfaces. Then he invests the paper surface with this information, building it up with layers and layers of fine marks. The children express the looks of patient conformity to the dictates of adult authority. Chiappe takes this further and brings out the enigmatic, the ghostly, the transcendent, the sinister, the macabre. Glimpses of childish fancy also break out here and there reminding us of the forgotten world of childhood. The quality of the expression is achieved through intensive working over many weeks. In some, the details of the face are almost lost in a delicate mistiness - another way of considering the human face anew. Chiappe toys with notions of memory and history and parallels them with the fragility of his medium. Immersed in meditative complexity and intensity, the portraits are treated as ghosts, a slow and deliberate investigation into the human condition.
Born in 1984, Paul Chiappe lives and works in Edinburgh. His work will be featured in Small., an upcoming exhibition at The Drawing Center, NY (July 2014). Recent exhibitions include Drawing Room Biennial, London (2013), Slow Looking: Contemporary Drawing, Tate Britain (2012), Picture Takers, Visual Arts Center, NJ (2012), A parliament of Lines, City Art Centre, Edinburgh (2012), Quiet Accord, John Michael Kohler Center, WI (2012), Fondation Frances, Senlis, FR (2011), The Scottish Summer Exhibition, The Fleming Collection, London (2010), What you see is where you're at, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2010), John Watson Prize solo exhibition the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (2007-2008), His work is included in public collections such as: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; Fondation Frances Senlis, France.