All the faces we know, all the / places to go / Shall we stop to say hellos?
Solo Exhibition by James Chronister
Nino Mier, Los Angeles, CA
July 15 - August 26, 2023
Welcome to another LA Art Documents' video dedicated to Contemporary Art Exhibitions, this time we are taking you to Nino Mier Gallery in West Hollywood to the Solo Exhibition by James Chronister.
Nino Mier Gallery's Official Press Release:
Nino Mier Gallery is thrilled to present All the faces we know, all the / places to go / Shall we stop to say hellos?, James Chronister’s debut solo exhibition with the gallery, on view in Los Angeles from July 15 – August 26, 2023. The exhibition comprises a series of oil paintings representing landscapes of Montana, where he grew up and currently resides. In the works on view, Chronister uses a highly restrained formal process to construct his rich evocations of time and place. All the faces we know, all the / places to go / Shall we stop to say hellos? features Chronister’s most intricate paintings yet—canvases congested with detail, energized by the tension between surface and depth.
The exhibition’s title pulls from lyrics to “Send Them Away,” a 1985 song by The Wake. Chronister was drawn to the peculiarity of the plural “hellos,” which he speculates can be attributed to a faulty AI transcription. The introduction of error and discontinuity in what we expect to be digital perfection reflects a critical stage in Chronister’s process. Each of his compositions begins as a photograph taken of the natural world, from thickets of birch trees viewed straight-on to close-up aerial shots of dirt, weeds and grass. The artist then manipulates the photographs, distorting the images’ values and tones, contrast and sharpness to lyrical effect. While this photography process is experimental, his subsequent painting process is marked by a highly technical precision. After establishing a background color – usually white or off-white – Chronister begins painting the photograph meticulously in black or off-black paint, using techniques such as dry brushing and stippling to more precisely render a wide range of tonalities, the subtleties of texture, and other compositional nuances.
Chronister’s use of monochrome provides a cohesion to the paintings while also making them distinct from realism, despite the artist’s fidelity to his photographs while painting. Each work possesses a great deal of visual information – often representing objects at all depths as in focus – that is unified through their representation in one color. “I understand my use of monochrome as a way of imbuing a realist painting with a level of abstraction,” says Chronister. “These paintings are just on the verge of abstraction, which begins in their photographic roots.”
When Chronister first began working on paintings in this style, it was an exercise in nostalgia. Visiting his childhood home in Montana while living in California in the mid-2010s, Chronister would paint photographs he had taken of the forests and gardens of his youth. Since 2020, the artist has moved back to Montana, and while the paintings no longer are recollections of what has past, they still possess a distinct emotional charge. Chronister cites Agnes Martin’s interest in the internal processing of reality and Giorgio Morandi’s attention to the mundane as models for his own relationship to painting. Most of all, he is invested in creating work that is meaningful and poetic with what is close at hand, using that subject matter as the scaffolding upon which he can externalize the inner mental spaces we all carry with ourselves as we engage with the world.
James Chronister (b. 1978, Helena, MT, US; lives and works in Missoula, MT, US) earned his BFA (High Honors) as a University Scholar from the Davidson Honors College at the University of Montana, Missoula and his MFA (with Distinction) from the California College of the Arts, San Francisco. In 2013, Chronister was awarded the Artist-In-Residence at the ICA San Diego in Encinitas, California, which was accompanied by a survey of his work from the years 2009-2013. Chronister was nominated for the SECA Award from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2010 and 2018. In 2020 Chronister was a recipient of the Bay Area Visual Artist Production Relief Grant from Evergold Projects, San Francisco. Chronister has been a visiting artist at the California College of the Arts, the ICA San Diego, Montana State University, and the San Francisco Art Institute. Public collections of Chronister’s work include San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto; San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco; Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley; San Francisco General Hospital, San Francisco; Nion McEvoy Family Collection, San Francisco; Paul Wattis III Family Collection, San Francisco; Howard Tullman Family Collection, Chicago; Morgan Stanley Art Collection, New York; and Berkenstadt Family Collection, Miami.
See more at https://www.miergallery.com/