Henry Chapman

Loving, 2015

oil and acrylic on canvas
198.1 × 167.6 Size (cm)
78.0 × 66.0 Size (in)
Miami Beach 2015

This body of work attempts to think of realism nontraditionally, not constrained by fixed models of “reality” (in art, western perspective or naturalism, for example), instead adapting to articulate the coexistence of different times, places, and subjectivities. Underlying is my belief that painting should move toward “feeling real” as described by Maggie Nelson in The Argonauts: a “primary sensation of aliveness… which makes spontaneous gesture possible.” This is to say, realism in this context is more of a verb than a noun, a protean activity. Its accuracy is measured by the specific, embodied experience of the viewer, not by preset paradigms of the real. In my reading of it, the short hand for “Loving” points to GESTURE, as loose brushstrokes, watery shapes, and stains make up most of the image, painting gestures that identify a pattern loosely borrowed from 19th C. William Morris designs I was looking at this summer. This pattern weaves between two faint figures looking at each other and reaching for each other. Because of this emotional register, feeling friendship, love, and connection, its long hand points to FELT.