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1 Lunedi, Purple violet blue fear, 20 20

Domenico de Chirico: How do you approach painting? 

Henry Chapman: I’m the son of a pianist and some of my terms for understanding painting come from music: practice, performance, movement, time. These terms reflect how I make each painting — in one or two sittings, at a scale requiring my full body, and based on studies made in watercolor first. They also reflect my way of asking these questions of painting: what is the right language to embody experience? What is language? What is body?

Purple violet blue fear, 2020, oil and ink on canvas,50x40 cm.

Domenico de Chirico: Can you talk about the recurring forms and the repetition of language in your work?

Henry Chapman: A central form in my work evokes both a color wheel and a clock; in some paintings, a figure reaching outward. In others, a stellar or floral shape. Screen-printed words move around or within these marks and washes of color, often at points where you would find numerals on a clockface. The idea is movement. To move through different modes and concepts — thinking, feeling, speaking, acting. The words themselves are not the painting’s ‘language,’ but part of the language. A part of color. 

Gowanus, 2019, acrylic and ink on canvas, 180x140 cm.

2 Martedi, Gowanus, 2019, 180x140 cm, ac
3 Mercoledi,  Blue green blue drip, 2020

Domenico de Chirico: How do you think about color in this body of work? 

Henry Chapman: Color in its infinitude doesn’t recognize mastery. Color is a language impossible to fully learn; I think this is why I kept returning to it over months and years of grief. (It too is a language). My newest group of paintings breaks from previous iterations by starting on a dark ground; this is the foundation for questions about time, movement, performance, and practice. The color relationships are limited to shades of black, brown, blue, purple, violet, and green.

Blue green blue drip, 2020, acrylic and ink on canvas, 180x140cm.

Domenico de Chirico: Can you talk about your influences?

Henry Chapman: My way of thinking about painting was formed by the example of artists who moved easily between mediums, ideas, and categories of mark-making (abstract and figurative, for instance). In no particular order, and to only name a few, artists such as Sigmar Polke; Kerry James Marshall; the paintings and poetry of Etel Adnan; Adrian Piper; Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee; Rochelle Feinstein; Richard Aldridge. 

Of the trees, 2019, 180x 140cm, acrylic and ink on canvas

Of the trees, 2019, 180x 140cm, acrylic
Brown green poem violet, 2020,  180x140c

Domenico de Chirico: What have you taken from looking at these artists?

Henry Chapman: What I’ve learned from these artists and others is a restlessness about the inadequacy of language — whether that language is color or English or otherwise. 

Brown green poem violet, 2020, acrylic and ink on canvas, 180x140cm.

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