CAM presents new works by Dominic Chambers at his first museum exhibition in his hometown of St. Louis. Chambers creates vibrant paintings that engage art historical models, such as color field painting, gestural abstraction, and surrealism. Interested in how art can function as a vehicle for reconsidering one’s relationship with the world, the artist sees painting as a critical and intellectual endeavor as much as an aesthetic one. For Chambers, a lover of books, literary forms such as magical realism rest firmly at the center of his examination of contemporary concerns around race, personal and imagined narratives, and the complexity of one’s interior life.
Chambers’ recent series have focused on representations of Black leisure and introspection, with the artist depicting many of his subjects reading literary texts or spirited away by their imagination. “Too often, the Black body has been located in our imaginations as one incapable of rest,” Chambers explains. “Often when we imagine what the Black body is doing, it is usually an act of labor, rebellion, or resistance.” In his recent series, Chambers seeks to push against these associations, often placing his figures in quiet, solitary moments of reflection or repose. In this gesture, Chambers implies the radical power of Black leisure.
An artist and writer, Chambers composes contemplative narratives which pull inspiration from critical voices within the Black literary canon—particularly the writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, Octavia Butler, and Zora Neale Hurston. Many of his compositions incorporate whimsical elements, including ghostly silhouettes and lush, surreal landscapes that feel at once familiar and, at times, aberrant. Inspired by and expanding on the color theory of artist Josef Albers, Chambers introduces the figurative subject to create a new discourse around identity and perception. Combining both a vibrant and a near-monochromatic palette, the artist sees color as a protagonist in his paintings.
Dominic Chambers: Birthplace is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Wassan Al-Khudhairi, former Ferring Foundation Chief Curator.
Dominic Chambers (b. 1993, St. Louis, MO; lives and works in New Haven, CT) received his BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, WI in 2016, and his MFA from Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT in 2019. Solo exhibitions of his work have been organized at Tephra Institute of Contemporary Art, Reston, VA (2022); Lehmann Maupin, New York, NY (2022); the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Pittsburgh, PA (2020); Luce Gallery, Turin, Italy (2020); The Millitzer Studio and Gallery, St. Louis, MO (2017); and the Residential Gallery, Des Moines, IA (2017). Chambers’ work is in a number of private and public collections, including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (promised gift); Green Family Foundation, Dallas, TX; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, FL; Long Museum, Shanghai, China; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA (promised gift); Pérez Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; and Xiao Museum of Contemporary Art, Rizhao, China. Chambers is the recipient of the Robert Reed Drawing Scholarship, Yale University (2018); Ellen Battell Stoeckel Fellowship, Yale Norfolk School of Art (2015); and the Varsity Art XVIII Award, St. Louis Community College – Florissant Valley, St. Louis, MO (2014). He has completed residencies at the New York Studio Residency Program, Brooklyn, NY (2015), and the Yale Norfolk School of Art, Norfolk Historic District, CT (2015).