Daniel Crews-Chubb’s paintings combine powerful visual archetypes, familiar throughout human history, Gods, mythical characters, nudes, beasts, trees and chariots. These characters are rendered in mixed media works that typically incorporate drawing, collage and painting. They embody a search for the authentic, the raw and the unrefined, and are subtly influenced by consumer culture, modernism, antiquity, ethnographic sculpture and the history of mark-making, from cave painting to expressionism.
His repetition of figurative motives becomes a vehicle for exploring the act of painting itself, utilizing a repertoire of seemingly casual marks that are, in fact, worked and reworked to create hard-won, layered paintings. He uses oils, acrylics, spray paint, sand, charcoal and pastel with abandon on rough, stretched and re-stretched canvases, which he often scrapes back and over paint many times. Corrections are brutal, collaging further canvas and assorted material on top of past imagery to edit and proceed quickly, retaining spontaneity in the development of his ideas. His characters are introduced and reintroduced into the paintings, one feeding the next. Ancient gods and goddesses mix with Yetis, 90’s video game characters and Belfie girls from Instagram - abstracted yet realist, false yet real.
Crews-Chubb’s employed methodology involves using his canvas structure like an ever-evolving collage both conceptually and physically, the architecture of which if dissected would reveal numerous iterations, thoughts and actions that led to the final state of rest. If the artist dislikes or wants to change something it is covered with scraps of canvas, linen, or whatever material is to hand, allowing him to adjust and proceed quickly. Thus, he is capable of making paintings that feel at once the product of their own layering and time-worn history whilst remaining truly dynamic and gestural. So, whilst these works are ‘new’, they are also laced with both the history of their making and a patinated record of progress and recession. In this way, Crews-Chubb gives us something we crave - the new fresh and organic with a sense of time, history, patina and physical progress. This is combined with his ability to trigger displaced memory through reference to historical figurative parallels and abstracted homage to his inspiration both in terms of art and artefact.
In these new works presented at Art Brussels, Crews-Chubb has several new characters, which have recently entered the cast; Zeus(!), Siren and Blanka.
Blanka, a Spinx like beast, is inspired by a hybrid character fashioned from the merging of his previous lions and a fictional quasi mythical combatant from Street Fighter 2, a nineties video game impregnated in his mind through repeated play. The Lion paintings are amalgamations- some have long tongues, beady eyes or wings like the sculptures he saw in Ubud, Indonesia, while others have long manes and look more regal reminiscent of his home towns coat of arms.
The Zeus (!) paintings take as the starting point the god of gods but have merged with past imagery of Hercules and Michaelangelo’s David. The (!) in the titling is a way for the artist to tell us that while there are definite characters that emerge their final rendering is as painting not as story. The stories or myths are there as an entry point for both the creation and reception of the painting.
Zeus! Is actually an Italian progressive rock band that Daniel has only experienced thus far on google image searches but just knowing that they exist perhaps lent the musicality to these works, Zeus becoming almost bard like a dandy warrior capable of taking on giants, with the strength of Hercules.
However, as usual these themes and references in the end become secondary to the painting both figurative and abstract.
Daniel Crews-Chubb was born 1984 in Northampton and lives and works in London. He completed the Painters Studio Programme at Turps Art School in 2013, having previously received his BA from Chelsea College of Arts in 2009.
His work is in public and private international institutions and collections including Denver Art Museum, The Bunker Art Space in West Palm Beach, The Saatchi Gallery and the Hall Foundation in New York. He has had notable exhibitions with Vigo Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, Roberts Projects and Galerist and residencies in Bali, LA, Denver and Istanbul.