Hello Aleah, first of all, tell us something about your upcoming work. What are you into at the moment?
I’ve pretty much always painted women, but inspired by a few close friends and family, I’ve begun to explore gender. This work will be shown at Gusford Gallery in LA fall 2015, which I’m very excited about!
(Left Image: Lucy and Laszlo 2, 2014)
I can clearly appreciate how much better your technique is becoming, especially for the light and the skin texture. Could you tell me some about your recent progressions?
I think I’ve just been trying to ‘see’ more and spend a longer time with each piece. There are always avenues in which to grow and I never want to rest on what I have done before. So with every painting I do, I try to get better. This doesn’t always happen of course, but it’s the intention and is extremely important in keeping things interesting in the studio.
Would you give a brief walk through your workflow? I mean starting from scratches to the final painting.
Well I begin by taking photographs. Hundreds of them. I want the energy of the painting to come from the person I am painting and in an honest way, directly from the individual. So I try to make space to discover and explore instead of forcing my own ideas on my models. I think it has become my way of sketching. After I’ve discovered the image that resonates with me, I just begin painting. With the large pieces, I will use a 1ft x 1ft grid to get the basic composition on the canvas, then I dive in, getting the “drawing” in with paint. Once I feel good about where everything is on the canvas, I begin with full color and build it up layer by layer. I often find myself going back and forth between tiny brushes and controlled marks, to bigger, loose washes, letting the paint really have a say. I do this until the painting feels alive.
(Right Image: The air was full, 2014)
Jenny Saville is one of the artists we love here at Hyde, and I have no difficulty to compare your artworks to her great paintings, do you feel inspired in a way by her?
Yes, absolutely! I really love her work and she has been an inspiration for years. There is something about the raw emotion and tactility of paint that I have always been drawn to. She’s also an awesome female artist and a great example of what is possible.
I didn’t find any male nude in your production, is that a precise choice or something you do not control?
I’ve been asked this question many times, but still don’t necessarily have a good answer. Perhaps because as a woman, I can relate? And also as a woman, I really want to see more honest representations of what we look like, so why not make them. I’m just beginning a body of where where I will be expanding beyond the female body, and I’m excited to see where it takes me!
How has your work evolved over the years from when you were beginning?
I have always been in love with painting the body, even as a kid, I wanted to draw and paint people. I think my work has become simpler over the years. When I was in college, I found that I tried to put too many ideas into every painting. I wanted them to say big, important things. This is all good, except that I don’t think it worked. I’ve discovered that the only way to really make work that I feel good about is to focus on what I know. I don’t want to limit my ideas with a moral agenda that I can’t relate to in a gut way. I’m learning to create a structure that breaths where I can let the work grow and speak on its own, and through this, teach me things that I didn’t know.
(Left Image: Laugh, 2011)
Who’s the first painter that comes to your mind in a second?
Emmet Gowin. Not a painter though, but I love photography!
Something you’ve always wanted to do, but have yet to.
Walk the Camino de Santiago and build my own house (and studio of course).
(Right Image: The Tempest, 2013)
Something you want the world to know about you.
I’m going to get a bit serious here. Probably that I never want to create work that is disrespectful or offensive. I’ve been told that my work can scare or offend sometimes, but I want people to know that that is never my intention. But I also don’t want to play it safe. I want to push boundaries and force us to see our own bodies in a different way.
Something that annoys or frustrates you about people.
Maybe when people give up too easily, not realizing their own potential. Good things come after a lot of hard work, some blood and quite a few tears.
Your idea about social networks.
They can be an amazing way to share ideas, art and provide a bridge between completely different people from all over the world. This is pretty incredible. But I also think social networks can become overwhelming and we can lose sight of what is actually important. And social networks also don’t like nude art. I’ve had my work deleted a few times and find that pretty frustrating.
(en: check Aleah’s Fb page here)
(Left Image: Jumanji and Gwen, 2014)
What’s overrated/underrated today?
We overrate how we appear and underrate who we are.
All the images © Aleah Chapin, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery, London and New York.
Aleah Chapin has a current exhibition titled “Maiden, Mother, Child and Crone” at Flowers Gallery in London until 8 November 2014. Flowers Gallery, 21 Cork Street, London.