Night Vision is an exhibition of new paintings by Chris Leib. These paintings are a continuation of his series of royal astronauts, begun in 2012.
Opening reception: Saturday, November 25th, 6 - 9pm.
This exhibition will run from November 26th - December 17th
Night Vision at its root is about power and surveillance. It is a collision of heroic themes and state (royal) portraiture. The heroic is redefined against a backdrop of state intrusion. Anachronistic royal travelers watch over their realm in panopticon fashion.
The astronaut represents the highest achievements of humankind, but in these paintings, the astronauts’ helmets are faceless, with dark reflective visors like a camera lens or eye pupil. What the astronaut is taking in visually is unknown to the viewer, setting up a contrast between blindness and camera-like intake and suggesting twilight (crepuscular) and nocturnal hunting for “enemies.” Night vision is associated with predatory behavior, and here the upper hand in knowledge and movement provides an advantageous position of predator over prey.
State (royal) portraiture was the promotion of statesmanship, projection of power—propaganda. The subjects appear bejeweled and otherworldly and untouchable, above the citizenry. The jewelry and patterns were symbolic in royal portraits. Like in those portraits, Leib sometimes uses jewels and patterns to create codifications and ciphers, puzzles to add another layer to the narrative of the paintings. The paintings also reference various figures of mythology and folklore that involve power, civilization, etc. Blending classical and contemporary themes, Leib hopes to create a sense of timelessness that speaks to the nature and dynamic of power.
Chris Leib is an American artist from California, USA. He began his education in anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley. He later studied at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, after which he apprenticed with the Italian painter Roberto Lupetti and worked for a number of years as an illustrator for McGraw-Hill Publishing.
A classically trained painter, Leib has spent many years applying Renaissance techniques to subject matter outside traditional boundaries. Leib’s paintings typically feature astronauts and bonobos in various odd settings that are loosely inspired by the species’ (mis)interpretation of historical contexts. Despite their dark tones, his subjects are characterized by humor and an exploration of heroic imagery.
Leib’s art has been positively reviewed in Hi-Fructose, Huffington Post, Kunst Magazin, Supersonic Electronic, Village Voice, Beautiful Bizarre, HEY! Magazine, LA Weekly, Cyberzone and BloPop. Leib has twice been an artist in residence at the De Young Museum in San Francisco and has received competitive grants from the George Sugarman Foundation and the San Francisco Arts Commission. Leib has exhibited his artwork across the United States as well as in Germany, France, Denmark and Australia, and his work can be found in important public and private collections in the United States, Australia and Europe.