Near to this day in 2017, we spoke to Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan Chapline about his otherworldly paintings that fantastically blur the boundaries between the digital and the analogue. Two years down the line and he continues to impress us.
The past 12 months, in particular, have been busy for Jonathan – where not only has he taken part in a solo presentation at Art Brussels with the Hole, a contemporary art gallery run by Kathy Grayson, he has also curated a group show on still life painting in Beirut that included the likes of Robin F. Williams, Nikki Maloof, Jules de Balincourt, Paul Wackers, Melissa Brown, Cynthia Talmadge, Amy Lincoln and himself. Currently, he’s working on two solo booths that will be exhibited at the Sunday Art Fair at Untitled Miami, and plans to hold his first solo show in Asia at the Nanzuka Underground in Tokyo.
There’s clearly no stopping this artist. With paintings more detailed, more bold and more developed, his work continues to evoke a sense of the surreal and the digitally formed. “It’s a process of constantly looking and finding new ways of talking about my digital world,” says Jonathan on the topic of how his style has evolved. “It becomes busier as more information is added, but I’m also stripping away some of the details to emphasise form and colour.”
Previously, with references drawn from computer-generated imagery, his works were emphatically vibrant and represented a hyperreal land of objects, interiors, space and even people. Now, indeed with a more pared down approach, Jonathan has minimised his colour palette yet manages to produce paintings that are rich with detail. At first glance, too, these paintings might appear to be infused with neon, yet this isn’t quite the case: “I’ve actually limited my colour palette which ironically allows me to say more with colour.”
When taking to his canvas, Jonathan explains how he uses a variety of different processes – “but sometimes the most basic ones are the best,” he says. Simplifying and stripping it back, he tends to pull his references from the physical, rather than the digital sphere. This includes “sketches from life, taking cellphone photos and finding imagery from old magazines.” He continues: “I use these references as my foundation to create the images and then I start to build them in a 3D program. Afterwards, it all gets translated into paint and, when I paint, mixing the colours becomes my primary focus.”
This colourful and multidimensional approach creates a virtual world that seems so real – like an alternative universe formed out of the artist’s creative mind. Jonathan’s intentions are somewhat purposefully bewildering. “I’m trying to create an environment where universally the viewer can connect,” he says. “The interiors become blurry and remind you of memories from past experiences.” Jonathan takes you on a visual journey through a familiar setting, with objects, furniture and structures that remind you of architecture you’ve seen in the past, but something seems a bit off kilter. Well, this is entirely the point.