New Paintings by Gregg Chadwick
In folk mythology, a revenant is a being or force that returns from another level of existence to haunt the living. The paintings in my new series, Revenant, carry the ghosts of their former selves. Each work goes through an open-ended series of painting sessions. Surfaces are scraped down, over painted, and layered with transparent pigments. Opaque swaths of color are brushed into the wet surface, leaving remnants of past figures and locations, while memories and future visions surge to the surface and overwrite the image.
Current science is discovering that our earliest memories of childhood may be pushed out or overwritten like computer code by the growth of neurons during our early years, which could help explain the mysterious memory lapses, what Freud called “infantile amnesia”, in our childhood memories. Often, for me, bits of these ghostly, fragmented memories pop up with the hint of a remembered song, color, or aroma.
Two ghosts, two memories, haunt me from my childhood. One is the sweet image of my grandfather, Arthur Desch, high up in the cab on his train on the Jersey Central Line. A second haunting image is a Pennsylvania tandem pulling Senator Robert Kennedy's casket from his memorial in Boston to Arlington Cemetery in 1968.
I relish these revenant moments and use them as access points into my current paintings. Ghost trains roll down long abandoned tracks. Lost buildings reappear. Shadows of former selves are reflected in this mirrored world. The crackle of distant radio transmissions seems to blend with the staccato of binary code. Apparitions of friends, family, fellow artists, and passersby find their way, sometimes unbidden but welcomed, into the works. For me, these revenant figures and places bring possibility to life and lend an eerie comfort to our fleeting world.
- Gregg Chadwick, Santa Monica, California