If There is a Thing Called Magic: Dominic Chambers on Alice Neel
In our Spring 2022 quarterly, we have an extensive survey and conversation about the exhibition, Alice Neel: People Come First, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco opening March 12, 2022. In conjunction with the feature, we asked a few contemporary artists about the influence of Neel, as both a portrait painter and that influence today as figuration as once again become a central focal point of contemporary art.
One artist we spoke with was Dominic Chambers, who recently showed at Lehmann Maupin in NYC, portrait painting has taken on a new meaning. Not the typical sit and pose style, Chambers has a literary style to his portraits, almost a subconscious portrayal of a subject. Perhaps someone has sat for Chambers and he paints their story? His recent works were remarkable and referential, and truly his own. And, Alice Neel was an influence.
"Alice Neel understood that if there is such thing as magic, it can be found in the world of painting. One of the things that most attracts me to her work is its reverence for the ordinary. Her life, her city, and the people around her were enough. I admire that aspect of her practice, and as an artist, I also strive to produce works that present the seemingly mundane while simultaneously evoking the zany and unusual. Neel was a prolific painter. And as someone who also looks to those I have relationships with as potential subjects for my work, I relish the candidness in her work; she is perhaps one of the most sincere painters I can think of. Neel’s paintings can be considered as both a love letter to the subjects in her work and to the tradition of figurative painting." —Dominic Chambers
Our Spring 2022 Quarterly is available now. Read what Jenna Gribbon told us about Neel here.