JACK CHIPMAN <> ARTIST STATEMENT
Why paint? The act of painting has been under attack in recent years but remains a stubborn survivor. It’s been a fundamental artistic activity for millennia, ever since the first cave paintings were created, so it probably isn’t going away anytime soon.
I’m not blazing a new painting trail in my recent work. Rather than attempting something novel I’m assimilating ideas received from numerous influences pursued over a long practice. Naturally what an individual artist does is mitigated by what’s already been done in the art world. I admire the work of many past and present day painters. I began my career and was influenced by “post-painterly abstraction” when it was the latest phase in the evolution of the New York School but I’ve not overlooked the work of Los Angeles based painters. A few of my influences: John McLaughlin, Karl Benjamin, Ed Moses and Charles Arnoldi. Some of these influences can be seen in the latest series of painting I’ve called ROOTS. The roots of the current work reach back to the painting experiments of my youth.
An unexpected stimulus for the new work has been the California ceramics that has been a source of interest and income since the 1970s. One piece in particular, a large vessel by California potter Robert Maxwell—awash with complex flowing glazes in subtle variations of color—was a pivotal factor.
JACK CHIPMAN <> BIO
It’s not easy to put down in a few words the essence of an artist’s work. Most of us are not skilled writers. In my case, I became a writer by default. Life can be unpredictable and something that is not easily controlled as I learned as a young artist recruited to write reviews for a new publication called Artweek. I could have declined, but instead made it my mission to draw attention to the work of interesting emerging artists of the Bay Area, where I was at the time. That apprenticeship eventually led to the authoring of several books on the subject of California ceramics, which has become an interest and income source for me.
My own work has slowly progressed from the early days in San Francisco (in the 1970s) when I was dubbed “Jack the Ripper” after the process I originated of ripping primed canvas into strips, dying them individually in subtle pastel shades and attaching them to wooden or bamboo poles. My work was perceived then as part the Process Art movement that included artists who were exploring new materials and painting methods. One of those strategies was the abandoning of traditional stretcher bars.
In the 1980s, after my return to Los Angeles in the late 1970s and following a 5-year hiatus during which I was consumed with collecting and researching California pottery, I began exploring several different mediums including collage and assemblage. In the 1990s, I decided to revisit the rippings concept but with a new twist. These rippings were completed paintings—combining color fields with geometric patterns—that I ripped into strips and reassembled. I called this series RIP, obviously indicating the manner in which the work was produced but also riffing on contemporary painting’s purported demise.
My paintings of the new millennium are both old and new. They employ the color fields and geometric patterns of the RIP series as a starting point but have veered off in a new direction. My new paintings combine the free-flow of acrylic paint (gravity doing most of the work) with hard edge geometric shapes in colors that are at this point entirely intuitive. In exploring this territory I realize that my influences have been many and varied. Some of the more relevant include NY painter Morris Louis and LA painters Emerson Woelffer (whom I studied with at Chouinard Art Institute), John McCracken and Ed Moses.