“2018 Geoffrey Chadsey”Top Left: “Blue Faced Jimi, (2017) Watercolor pencil and crayon on mylar 73 x 42 x 1.8 in.
Top center: “Double” (2017-18) Watercolor pencil and crayon on mylar 78 x 72 x 1/2 in.
Top right: “Amstel (Buddy Movie)” Watercolor pencil, crayon and tape on mylar 57 5/8 x 25 in. (2017)
Bottom left: Detail of “Amstel (Buddy Movie)”
Bottom right: “Out” (2010) Watercolor Pencil on Mylar 36 x 60”
Installation View, Geoffrey Chadsey:
That’s Not It, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, NY © GEOFFREY CHADSEY.
Erotic Quixotic Hypnotic? Find a new narcotic
Geoffrey Chadsey in “That’s Not It”
Ambiguous yet straightforward. Inviting yet repellent. Male yet female. Immaterial yet material. So describes a recent visit to Chelsea one day last week. Huh? Something is certainly afoot at the Jack Shainman Gallery as Geoffrey Chadsey’s “That’s Not It” lands the nail on the head. If “That’s Not It” then precisely what is? The artist delights in delivering work laden with ambiguity and surprise. Depicted in large format on mylar, these portraits present a collection of androgynous hybrid figures in frames without glass. The transparency of mylar gives a sense of fragility while the sheer physicality exerts presence. Life-size, the works demand to be seen. It is precisely this dichotomy that kept this artist in a state of healthy confusion.
Chadsey shows a fascination with multiple arm and hand movements. Often, his figures sprout arms like a tantric god. In “Blue Faced Jimi” (above left) a figure sits casually. Composed in watercolor pencil, the effect is similar to a wash and the finish gives a transparent gloss. A faint pair of arms, similar to a behind-the-scenes X-ray, holds his head behind his hands. A ghostly head floats above while one hand casually falls at his crotch. An undercurrent of homoeroticism runs throughout the work. “Double” (above center) presents two androgynous figures in half dress donning tube socks. On the left, a figure takes a selfie while a knot of laundry lies at his/her feet. A heavy barbell separates the pair. A pop of color – a red cap, a flowing mane of hair and yellow and black knee pads – animate the surface. Disheveled and unpretentious, the figures are obscured by masks. They are mysterious and familiar at the same time. Revealed and obscured. Male and female. Donning a fly away ball cap and Marines t-shirt, the figure on the right twists his t-shirt with clenched fist; his crotch bares an absence of genitals.
“That description of multiplicity, confusion, playfulness of identities delighted me. That’s what the internet was supposed to be about when it became a popular medium. People were talking about how you could reinvent yourself in chat rooms and be whoever you wanted to be. It was supposed to be a post-identity space. Instead, people have become even more entrenched in their identifications of who they’d like to be—and who they’d like to be with.” (“OtherPeoplesPixels Interviews Geoffrey Chadsey” in Other Peoples Pixels Blog January 23, 2014)
The viewer is lured in by a gentle palette and soft line. “Amstel (Buddy Movie)” is imbued with a soft palette of warm violet and the dichotomy of skin tones creates contrast. Male and female, black and white. An Amstel light beer bottle and gun holster add a touch of machismo. Ghostly hand movements and an upward floating face play out in “Out”. Chadsey employs a delicacy of line in gradating sofa stripes. Visual cues such as floral wall paper, keep the eye in play in “Lopped (David)” (2016). Quiet areas of grey and white juxtapose against the liveliness of the wall paper. Chadsey appropriates Michelangelo’s “David” and proposes a male ideal sporting a full beard, female breasts and a straw hat.
One muses if the figure in “Camo” is taking a photo of the gallery goer? Is this a selfie of the artist? The snapshot is an amalgam of male and female showcasing a mop of red hair, John Lennon glasses and army-navy trousers. Chadsey describes the influence of photographs on his work:
“…[I] first started looking intensely at photos in magazines, photo books, advertising and fashion spreads, and movies as an adolescent, when [I] became aware that [I] was gay. “Photographs were the raw material for a fantasy life when I couldn’t manage to act on my desires in the real world,” he says. “Drawing well was being able to re-create convincingly the world as seen in photographs.” (from BU Today: “Exploring Constructions of Masculinity” November 28, 2017)
So much can be gleaned in this body of work – the play on gender, the influence of photography on large-scale drawing, the use of mylar and watercolor crayon, the arresting depiction of the figure today and an inclusion of selfies. Simply put, Geoffrey Chadsey’s work is erotic, quixotic and deeply hypnotic. You would be in error to let this amazing show slip your grasp. “That’s Not It” runs through June 23, 2018.
Jack Shainman Gallery 524 West 24th Street, New York