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Review: “Island of the Colorblind” – Paul Chatem @ Shooting Gallery

On Saturday, April 9th, the Shooting Gallery in San Francisco opened the first solo show of Paul Chatem. Paul has shown quite a few times at the gallery, but always alongside another artist such as Mike Maxwell. This time it is all new artwork, and continues his new kinetic, interactive paintings and brings them to a new level. The show is entitled “Island of the Colorblind”, a title that was inspired by Oliver Sacks book of the same name. Ever since Paul’s past shows at the gallery, and the work that has popped up in group shows, I have been waiting to see this new solo exhibition. I Made sure to be there on the reception night, take some photos, talk to Paul about his work and inpsirations, and even made a little video to show those fans that cant make it to the show how the paintings work. Click the “read more” link for the full review and photos.

The show opened at 8pm and already had a good amount of people looking at the art. The gallery space, which is narrow, makes it a bit hard to take photos of the work if there is too many people in the gallery. Luckily for me, I had some time to take pics of the work before it got too packed. The lighting in this gallery always makes for great photos and with the intricacy, textures, and colors Paul’s paintings have, you want good light to really draw these works in.

One of the things I noticed at the first show I saw these new kinetic paintings, was that the patrons of the gallery were hesitant to touch the works, and they do need you in order to function. This show was no different. You could see people walk up to the paintings, and look around confused, and when they saw that others were touching the main crank-wheel of the paintings they followed suit. I am happy that while they did touch the works, they still did so with respect. I was able to talk to Paul for a while about his working process, inspirations and more. He stated that one of the main reasons for this new style of interactive paintings was that he noticed people in galleries walk up to a painting, look, and then walk to the next on. I have noticed this as well, and during my studies I would see this in Museums and began to refer to it as the “Museum Stroll”. It doesn’t mean that the people don’t like the art, they just look and then move on. You can tell when the viewer is an art historian, critic, or just plain in love with art when they really take their time looking at all of the intricacies the art has to offer. With these new kinetic works the viewer is surely to stick around longer and be drawn in not only with the application of paint, the beautiful line-work the characters have, or the splattered, aged, and rusty elements, but also with the fact that this painting moves! I took some videos of three paintings at work to give an idea of what they look like in action. Thanks to the wife for playing Vanna White and moving these so I could film.

Every painting in this exhibition can move, and some were not just with the gears, but with levers and even hands that waved back and forth. I told Paul that I am ready for his next show to be pushed up more and more levels until the point he is moving the gallery around us. I believe he can do it. I noticed that with the new works some of the gears that make them work are now hidden behind the paintings. Paul took one of the them down and let me photograph the back (here) so you can see the magic that allows the hands to wave back and forth on “Better Start Gettin Square”. We also talked for a bit about the Ishihara Color test plates that were found in some of the paintings. Turns out that Paul is colorblind. Something I would never have thought of since the colors he uses are so harmonious and consistent, but that’s obviously a sign of a skilled artist.

In the back of the gallery that was a dozen or so framed ink drawings. I liked the idea that there were also some drawings, and sketches. Some of the characters you could recognize, some not. These drawings are also another example of the line-work that Paul is able to pull off. Striking black ink with white paper, and if you didn’t get close enough to see the texture you could swear a machine made them. The show will be up until May 7th, and if I haven’t raved enough about these works, do yourself a favor and get to this show. Its not often you get to see a show this cohesive, exciting, and interactive. I guarantee in the coming years we will see more artists creating works that are as kinetic as Paul’s work is, just remember where you saw it first. Paul also has a new homepage so make sure you check that as well.

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  • Reply
    Apr 17, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Awesome! Thanks for the coverage of this great show. I envy you for seeing Paul’s work live in person. Wish I could make it there myself…

  • Reply
    Paul Chatem
    May 4, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    […] show had a great write up by Josh @ Creep Machine. He had this to say: “…With these new kinetic works the viewer is surely to stick around […]

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