Morgan Lehman Gallery is pleased to present Slow Color, an exhibition of new works by Jaq Chartier.
The title Slow Color refers to Jaq Chartier’s creative experience in her studio. Her signature works employ a formulation of intense, deeply saturated inks, stains and dyes developed to permeate pure white surfaces. Where traditional artist paints are formulated to be stable and controllable, stains are capricious and easily influenced by a number of factors. Even after years of study, Chartier remains intrigued by the underlying chemistries of these materials.
Each piece begins as an actual “test” to explore some aspect of her materials. Inspired in part by scientific images of gel electrophoresis, the paintings feature intimate views of materials, and document how they react to one another, to light, and to the passage of time. Some of the more complex paintings such as Large Spectrum Chart serve as reference guides in the studio, with many small notations written directly on the surface to help Chartier survey the actual data contained there. These notes are one of the physical forms that she uses to display the parallels in her work between scientific and artistic exploration.
The paintings in this body of work are reminiscent of slow-motion performances, gradually changing as the materials continue to interact on a microscopic level. Halos of effusive color emerge where one component in a stain has drifted away from its moorings, creating edges that seem to levitate. These works are curiously beautiful with inflamed, infectious-looking, energies that we can’t see, and colors that suggest something outside of our ordinary world.
Sun Test: 40 Whites is an example of a long, ongoing color study charting the changes in a group of white spray paints spanning the course of 6 years. Like most painters, Chartier was educated to use archival materials and “proper” painting techniques, and this practice was the original motivation behind her “sun test” series – as a way of sorting out fugitive materials from those that are light-fast. But instead of discarding such materials, she has found herself attracted to them, drawn by the additional layer of complexity that such changes suggest, and by the very notion of impermanence.