With Fixed Eyes
LCCC Virtual Pop-Up Gallery
June 1 - 12, 2020
Chloe West, Self Portrait in Stripes, 11 x 14, oil on panel, 2020
My work is centered on the act of painting and observation: looking intently at myself and my surroundings with specific attention to how the body relates to interior spaces. I paint the surfaces of the everyday, enfleshing material skins. Objects such as windows and linoleum tiles are presented with works that show fragmented views of the body: contrasting materials of banality with moments of intimacy. Through these various perspectives, the works both allow and deny the viewer's gaze, giving fluctuating degrees of access to deal with themes of the gaze, visibility, and private/public space. Together, these works create a nonlinear narrative that explores the subjectivity of the body as it relates to place. The painting process is durational, tender, and engages in deep looking to question the gaze and themes of accessibility.
My obsessive observation leads me to work realistically, often photographing my subject as a reference. The photograph is not an object to replicate in paint, but a mediated experience of time and the performative act of photographing and being photographed. The relationship between the apparatus of the lens and the subject is fraught: always aware, the lens becoming its own fixed eye. I am interested in the relationship of the observer to the observed, the complicated dialogue between viewer and subject. Some works seem aware of the gaze and return it, others place the viewer in the position of voyeur, radically shifting the interaction. My imagery complicates the legibility of the body and memory through a vague, incomplete narrative. The readability of the images and the narrative is undefined: the figures peers out from a deep shadow or from beyond a blurred veil. There is a level of intimacy, but also of inaccessibility to these figures that sometimes reveal themselves, but often hide. Paintings of my body, my things, and my surroundings create a constructed, incomplete self-portrait; they are as ambiguous as they are specific, images that are both detailed and absent. The intense looking that the painting process demands has become central to the meaning of the work: continually looking and being seen.