Jamie Chase is a multifaceted artist, expressing himself through illustration, classical figurative work and abstraction. In his latest solo show at Mill Contemporary, which opens on July 27, viewers get a chance to see several sides of his artistic nature.
“In the beginning of my career I painted the figure in a way more classical style than I am now,” explains Chase, who enjoys pushing the limit on how the figure can be imagined. “I’ve tended to paint the figure in an expressionistic way for quite some time, but lately it’s become quite abstract. I’m challenging myself to keep the figure interesting for myself.”
The figures in Chase’s paintings usually relate more to feminine, rather than masculine, energy. Gender, however, is not what’s important.
“The figures are more about human presence than personality,” Chase adds. “My most recent figurative pieces, which are about the human condition, have the figure facing away from the viewer and into indeterminate space.”
An artist who has always forged his own artistic path, Chase was a student at both the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and the San Francisco Art Institute but never graduated from either institution. In the late 1970s he thought he would enjoy a lifelong career as an illustrator.
“I walked away from illustration for quite a long time because it was impeding my progress in abstraction,” he says, “but I’ve been doing some illustrations in recent years.”
Chase has been successful in the field of illustration, but it represents a modest part of his oeuvre. Lately, abstraction has been pulling at his heart and mind.
For Chase, a new work begins by creating a group of thumbnail sketches, usually four or five black and white images to a page. When he finds one or more images that capture his attention, he infuses them with a few colors. Paintings develop from the sketches that he feels hold the most possibilities.
Always looking at his work with fresh eyes, Chase sometimes decides to paint over images when he sees new and different ways of expressing his thoughts and ideas.
“There are some paintings in this show that have old paintings under them,” he reveals.