The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis presents new works by Dominic Chambers at his first museum exhibition in his hometown of St. Louis.
Chambers creates vibrant paintings that engage historical art models such as color field painting, gestural abstraction and surrealism. Interested in how art can function as a vehicle for reconsidering one’s relationship with the world, Chambers sees painting as a critical and intellectual endeavor as much as an aesthetic one.
For Chambers, a lover of books, literary forms such as magical realism rest firmly at the center of his examination of contemporary concerns around race, personal and imagined narratives and the complexity of one’s interior life.
Chambers’ recent series have focused on representations of Black leisure and introspection, with the artist depicting many of his subjects reading literary texts or spirited away by their imagination.
“Too often, the Black body has been located in our imaginations as one incapable of rest,” Chambers explains. “Often when we imagine what the Black body is doing, it is usually an act of labor, rebellion or resistance.”
In his recent series, Chambers seeks to push against these associations, often placing his figures in quiet, solitary moments of reflection or repose. In this gesture, Chambers implies the radical power of Black leisure.
An artist and writer, Chambers composes contemplative narratives that pull inspiration from critical voices within the Black literary canon, particularly the writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Octavia Butler and Zora Neale Hurston. Many of his compositions incorporate whimsical elements, including ghostly silhouettes and lush, surreal landscapes that feel at once familiar and, at times, aberrant.
Inspired by and expanding on the color theory of artist Josef Albers, Chambers introduces the figurative subject to create a new discourse around identity and perception. Combining both a vibrant and a near-monochromatic palette, the artist sees color as a protagonist in his paintings.