Monday, February 18, 2013

Chase Westfall

The paintings of Chase Westfall are pleasantly elusive.  His work often toes the line between abstraction and figuration.  He seems to often swing from sunny imagary such as flowers or rainbows to that of mutilated animal carcasses.  However, he never gives it entirely away.  The imagary often is obscured by a diamond grid work or its own abstraction.  The viewers eyes constantly shifts between deciphering the images and inspecting the pattern, neither resolving the other.  His oil paintings are executed on linen contrasting the soft surface with his hard edged geometric shapes. The war imagery and other, at times violent topics, which Westfall paints in color, are in sharp contrast to the organic and natural feel of the linen canvas and the neutral tones used for the grids. The images are even more powerful when partly hidden as we are questioning what is missing, what is obscured and covered. Westfall reveals and conceals simultaneously, using both modes to provide visibility and create an aesthetic and conceptual interaction.  Westfall plays with opposites to explore anthropological concerns. He juxtaposes his intricate colorful and conceptually heavy figurative renderings with the neutral, rigid, perfectly harmonious grids and forms but his work goes beyond literal opposites. In Westfall’s art tradition meets contemporary minimalism and secularism meets spiritualism as the artist tries to make sense of the internal struggles between the opposites using both a modernist and simultaneously and anti-modernist mode. His artistic endeavor has pulled him in the direction where culturally, violence is thought to align with other concepts as spirituality, progress and morality. His source imagery are found from areas such as slaughterhouse, war, animal sacrifice or medical operating rooms. He states, in each case, he “subjects that imagery to a kind of simplified rationale by overlaying it with geometric structures, obscuring or veiling it, placing physical barriers between it and the viewer, or simply isolating it and removing it from its context.” Through his artistic process, Westfall transforms his material and creates a new meaning. 

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