Bright colors, shiny finishes and abstract shapes are staple features in the work of abstract artist Christopher Hart Chambers. A sculptor who has achieved wide recognition due to his strikingly beautiful and joyful works, Christopher is currently showcasing his creations at the Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island, New York.
Christopher Hart Chambers was born in New York City where he continues to live and work. He attended the High School of Music and Art and various other NYC based institutions of fine art learning. He first exhibited professionally when as a teenager he formed the street art militia avant, bringing fine art to the streets alongside the spray paint graffiti of the day and thereby launching what became an international phenomenon. A few years later in 1985 with partner, musician Hayward Peele, he opened the B.A.D. Museum (Bohemia After Dark – named in reverence for a composition by Charlie Parker) as a venue for a variety of media. He has since participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally and his efforts have been reviewed in dozens of newspapers and magazines. While his early work concentrated strictly on painting, more recently Chambers has incorporated sculptural elements.
Christopher refers to his work as “idiosyncratically American” since it references hot rods, surfboards, psychedelia, romanticized fantasy space craft/techno-science fiction adventure vessels while also utilizing an acute alphabet of personal emblems and cryptic motifs. Christopher is also involved with curating exhibitions and writing about art for several periodicals including Flash Art, Contemporary, Tema Celeste, d’Art, Sculpture, and several others. Yet throughout the years and tangential activities he has remained focused on the original aim which is prolifically producing and exhibiting his work widely: starting primarily as a painter, shifting to sculpture in the late 1990s, and finally conjoining them.
Christopher is a passionate traveler who likes to see where the paint, the color and the light leads. Artistically his main aim is to explore uncharted territory, to discover, and so he does not start with any idea in mind. In essence, his work is completely improvisational. Recently, Christopher Hart Chambers took the time to speak to the Examiner about his experiences working as an artist and his hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Christopher Hart Chambers (C.H.C.): I never decided to be an artist. In fact I decided not to be such many, many times
M.M.: Growing up, which artists/types of art interested you?
C.H.C.: There are lots of artists I like. Miro is one of my favorites, but I have a somewhat backwards view on influence. If my work starts to look like another’s work I scratch it and do something else. My interest is in surprising myself by finding images I wouldn’t ordinarily see. The old expression, “It’s been done.” Is because there is no point in making something you have already seen. Just go look at that. That is why I think photorealism is about the worst art movement in all of art history. Just go get a photograph if that is what you want. Mimesis is useless. A true artist is a fulcrum between God and synthesis- in other words giving up one’s ego and acting as the creative hand of the Lord.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
C.H.C.: My recent work is inspired by design and music. I like Jimi Hendrix because at his best moments he isn’t even there. He is like a surfboarder riding a wave. I also like aerodynamic industrial design that cuts through the elements. Whatever is natural and suffuses the creator’s self; whenever the artist gives him/herself over to another power becoming a fulcrum between physical reality and mystic forces that are greater than any one of us. That is when great moments in art occur. That is the power and the glory: The mystery revealed, or at least glimpsed.
M.M.: How did you go about getting into galleries?
C.H.C.: Pure luck. But, you know the saying that one’s chances of being in an airplane crash are the same whether it is your first trip or your thousandth? Not true. If you take a thousand trips you have taken a thousand chances. Even an elephant makes a good painting one out of twenty. My work gets exhibited because I keep trying. Some really lousy art gets shown while some great stuff winds up in the trash. It seems completely random to me. Personally, I have no other choice. I have no net. It is literally do or die.
M.M.: Do you have a favorite piece? If so, which one and why?
C.H.C.: The ones that I didn’t do, I merely witnessed are the best. Sometimes I will blast music so loud that I can’t hear myself think. It is possible for an image to be there in its obvious vacancy; when there is a tension in its absence – that is when a static image becomes animate.
M.M.: What are your mediums of choice?
C.H.C.: Anything that allows freedom of improvisation and permanence. I am not a big fan of process art, in other words when one sets up a natural occurrence. In sculpture I like carving rigid foam quickly because you don’t need to build an armature, you can improvise freely. I can’t afford Marble. I love all paint.
M.M.: Are there any mediums that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
C.H.C.: Marble and cast metals. They are too expensive for me.
M.M.: How did you get involved with the Nassau County Museum of Art?
C.H.C.: I was discovered in a restaurant because of the longing way I was looking at a sunset. It was random luck and the boldness of a wonderful woman.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving your artwork and/or being an artist?
C.H.C.: When magic happens.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
C.H.C.: Don’t do it. If you are aspiring it’s too late. You either get born that way or not. And believe me, it is not a blessing.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
C.H.C.: There will be a solo exhibition of my recent works at Tracy Causey Contemporary in Lower Manhattan in May which will have a few amusing pieces that I never intended to happen, but they did anyway. I don’t think it egotistical to say I like some of them because I don’t really feel like I did them, they just sort of happened. My mind witnessed some other part of myself co-acting in their creation.
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To learn more about Christopher Hart Chambers, visit his official website.