James Chronister - Now We Lustre
Chronister’s paintings are as much about the act of painting as they are about the content of his paintings. Each dot of paint is applied with a tiny brush in a painstaking process that takes about a month and a half per painting. Each canvas starts blank and is painted black and then gradually brought back to a toned white or occasionally tan background through the application of layers and layers of oil paint. This gives even what appears to be a simple white a depth and solidity not achieved by painting a true white ground. A grid is then drawn onto the ground, and the images is painted first as a checkerboard, then filled in, one square at a time, until complete. This process produces boundaries between each square in the painting and creates subtle variations when squares abut one another. There are shifts in the shade of the oil paint as is necessitated by the continuous process of trying to consistently blend the paint with medium as the painting progresses. These minute differences are barely perceived, but are none the less the crux of Chronister’s work.
Chronister is not hiding his process, but is rather highlighting the breaks and jarring discontinuities that the juxtapositions in the image create. What seem like simple landscapes turn into both a gorgeous idealized scene and a challenge for the viewer to think about the process of painting as well as the illusory nature of representation.