Nov 17, 2011

PROFILE| Chloe Early

Silver Tip Symphony, 2010, oil on linen, 183 x 243cm
Chloe Early creates a fantasy world in her paintings with a mix of abstract elements and somewhat photo-real figures in swimsuits surrounded by a variety of objects. The combination of these bathing suit-clad humans with flowers, rockets, bullets, and landscapes conjures up a narrative for me as a viewer. Even as I admire the aesthetic quality of her paintings I wonder what sort of comment she is making about contemporary society with these compositions. Why the swimsuits? Why the dreamy quality of floating objects and confused space? These paintings are not only beautiful, but make the viewer consider the relationship between the people and objects painted.

Early was born in 1980, graduated from NCAD in Dublin in 2003 and currently lives and works in London. She is represented by Stolen Space Gallery, also located in London. The paintings featured on her website are from 2009 to now, and research into her older work turns up images from 2008. Early's paintings commonly feature themes of people in swimsuits, sometimes dominating the composition, and sometimes occupying a small part in a landscape.
Torpedo, oil on aluminum disc, 122cm in diameter
In Torpedo the figure is centered, the obvious focal point of the composition.
Vacation, oil on linen, 20 x 31cm
In Vacation, the diving figure is but a small part of the composition. Early's paintings are usually in oil on a number of supports, such as linen, aluminum, canvas, and perspex, and have taken the form of rectangles and circles. In Early's blog, she archives her activities and keeps readers up to date on her paintings and exhibitions. It is in this blog that I discovered she works from photographs that she takes of divers, acrobats and gymnasts on trampolines. These floating figures aid in making her paintings seem even more dreamy and weightless. This is what she had to say about her subject matter in June 2009:
I have been looking at the idea of flight, both real and metaphorical in my work for the past few years. The idea started with my diving girls series, it has developed and grown into thoughts on fleeing, departing and the desire to escape drudgery. The holiday is the most obvious expression of escapism, peaking with the construction of theme parks and disney land but escapism manifests throughout culture in more subtle ways, scientific, technological and commercial. Most of our collective endeavors are a desire to distance ourselves from the lowly animal status of our species here on earth.  Hearing about the tower jumpers of the Middle Ages  – men dressed in homemade wings throwing themselves off towers in the name of flight research is a classic example of mans inability to accept his circumstances, ie I am a human but I want to be able to fly like a bird too. In my work I want to capture that feeling of abandonment from reality and also underlie some of the dystopian effects that such an approach brings.
Her beautiful floating figures seem to be a successful representation of a mindset in which people are escaping from everyday existence and worries. But as we as humans can dream, our bodies are still in the reality of day to day life. Early's divers are encased in beautiful colors and flowers as well as bullets, cityscapes, and rockets, bringing the viewer back into a "reality" suggestive of what is still happening in the world when we go on vacation. This is a feeling most of the leisure class can probably identify with.

-Syraya Horton


  1. ContributorNov 17, 2011 10:19 PM
    Chloe Early really popped out at me when looking through the blogs, I really enjoy her style in the artwork she produces. The fact that she creates this fantasy world gives the viewer plenty of ways to interpret the paintings. My favorite painting is Torpedo, mainly because of her choice of color, it's very feminine and ballerina-like. I appreciate her artwork and the use of all the different colors.

    -Clara Moreno
  2. ContributorNov 17, 2011 10:49 PM
    I fell in love with Early's work several months ago and was pleasantly surprised to come across her artist profile on our blog! I agree with your summarization of her work and especially admire the idea that, " humans can dream, our bodies are still in the reality of day to day life. " I think these statement has a distinct truth to it and successfully describes an important aspect of Early's artwork. Before reading this entry I was not aware of what inspired Early or how she portrayed these suspended women in such a precise manner. Lastly I appreciate the open ended questions asked in the first paragraph. These questions put a new perspective on the art work and ultimately make me want to do more research on this artist.

    -Samantha Jorgensen
  3. ContributorNov 22, 2011 01:49 PM
    The compositional form is very modern and I can't help but find a lot of reference to Michelangelo in the combination of color, especially with "Silver Tip Symphony". I would have to say the concept and use of motion is amazing in how it takes an elegant twist to such an radical tone with the attention to detail mixing into the surrounding background/foreground.

    -Joshua Miller
  4. ContributorNov 28, 2011 07:35 PM
    Nicely done though I would like to have seen you delve more into her work on your own. Having a quote by the artist is good but that tells us almost everything that we need to know. What were your first thoughts when you saw this artists work? Did you know she was trying to represent flight? As Samantha said above, the open ended questions are a nice touch and I'm glad that you did put the artist's statement in because it gives us the artists voice talking about her work which can teach us a lot on its own, and upon reading it the swimsuits made much more sense.

    -Josh Seaton
  5. ContributorNov 29, 2011 07:07 AM
    Reading your blog made me think of an interview I read rather recently with Steven Hawking. In this interview he talks about the necessity for humans to flee...that the world, both socially and environmentally, has become so unstable that we need to look toward outer space and other worlds for colonization. He believes this is where government spending should be concentrated.

    I know this is somewhat off topic for your blog...but I'm fascinated by this idea of "flight" and the way Hawking uses it. He is, of course, considered a brilliant physicist...but when it comes to common sense, he is an absolute moron.

    Just the idea that we need to flee from our problems, instead of working on understanding our own behaviors and actions, is incredibly problematic especially in the context of trying to "flee" the earth.

    Unfortunately, and I guess this is where I'm trying to turn this back into your blog entry, human beings need for taking emotional flight into the literal capabilities of flight seems to be winning the battle of dealing with abject emotional states and the dystopian viewpoint these emotional states belong to.

    The "fight or flight" desires aren't just part of a "pop psychology" language...the theory is strongly rooted in psychology and anthropology and is widely accepted as part of the human psyche.

    So when we put Hawking's words in the context of psychology, the question becomes: What would this man give to be free of his wheel chair existence...this cage he has spent his life in? He would spend all of the world's money to be free.

    We all dream of flying from danger, from the abject...but dealing with the abject (be it through therapy, art, or any other productive means) is much more difficult than learning to fly is. It takes a tremendous amount of courage and discipline, and it creates that dreaded "change" in our Self that we so often resist and resent.
    It seems Early is working through these psychological issues, and I imagine this will make it less important in her own life for her to find reasons to flee from emotional danger, and more likely to move toward fighting for her Self. And that is an important goal for contemporary art: understanding many of us are alone, yet not need be.

    --Jonathan Peters
  6. ContributorDec 5, 2011 06:05 PM
    The first picture you used does its job, it stopped me from going on and wanted to see what this blog was about. I like the concept of hers that you choose to write about, flying and as humans we have a want to see if we can. I just wish you would put more paintings from her.

    -Miriah Borden