We are very pleased to present the second solo show of the artist Chloe Wise at the gallery.
For this new series of portraits, Wise continues to paint her close friends, exploring themes of representation, identity and subject-object relationships. A sort of mise en abyme element allows us to trace fragments of her paintings in the backdrops of these works, also hinting at intimate moments within her studio.
In doing so, Wise adds an element that supports her particular way of connecting her work to her private life. She thus evokes the porosity of the borders existing between workplace and domesticity, but also approaches the representation of friendship and privacy, and the limitations imposed on this narrative by portraiture. Here, we find the de-facto political aspect of the portraitist’s act, her sharing of her reality as a New York female artist who chooses her subjects – brought together first due to belonging to the same generation and cultural community, and then based on a more intimate bond: their friendship with Chloe Wise and her act of painting.
To go further in sharing this intimacy, two young New York art curators, friends of Wise and models for this series, entered into an e-mail conversation about Wise’s work and turned it into a text. Below is an excerpt:
“Can we imagine an intimate friendship between the two likenesses of close friends? Do these paintings speak to one another—giggling, listening, gossiping, passing time when no one is looking? A ludicrous thought probably. Chatting in her studio, the painter and her friend-cum-subject sit at the feet of a portrait of another mutual friend, tuned into the kind of listener this last sitter would be; his imagined opinion chiming into the present party’s conversation. The room reverberates with a playful echo, it is filled with the odd comfort of an incessant doubling. Echo can never be a hero, but she’ll have the last word.
(…) While having the private portion of yourself externalized and depersonalized may feel like the most distancing instance, there is a difference between the thing and the thing represented. A remainder that resists translation; the shifting part of subjecthood no one has access to, not even the person who is being represented. Maybe intimacy is guaranteed on the basis of this massive distance.
Let us track (put in the work!) the surplus we’re pointing to, the surplus that intimacy seems to piggyback on. This is, to a degree, where the auratic quality of the portrait springs from. We hope to avoid uncritically extolling such terms and qualities (like Benjamin, we see no easy virtue to be found in the aura’s preservation or waning) and the centrifugal motion of Chloe Wise’s series cannibalizes this preciousness in the mechanic sense. One portrait is nested within and displaced onto another and each canvas is discernibly housed in her studio: objects gathered in one space only to be moved outward. The series sets equivocal boundaries between insides and outsides, forcing these positions to negotiate their terms of intelligibility—what it means to be on the inside or to be an observer looking in and the slippage between both places. “ *
* How to look at a friend : How a friend looks, Loreta Lamargese and Adam Gill, 2018.