Mostly self-taught, Jennifer Chalklen is a contemporary realist painter from New Zealand, currently residing in Singapore with her family. Once at the forefront of digital marketing, working for clients such as Ski Himalaya, Huffer, Solomon, Rip Curl, PlayStation, and Billabong, Chalklen decided that it was time to put time into her own ideas instead of others’. The timing coincided with the family moving to Indonesia. With two small children and third on the way, and lacking technical skills, the “simple” task of conveying ideas proved quite difficult.
A couple of art teachers and experiences (that would make most people quit) later, Chalklen realized she had to do it herself. Google, YouTube videos, and trial and error resulted in a unique visual language. Having problems with authority and someone telling her what to do, the fact she is mostly self-taught gave the artist a kind of self-governance over her artistic direction. Now her practice is a gentle contemplation presented in a visual form, resulting in a series of paintings strongly representational in form, and yet somehow otherworldly in design.
Chalklen wrote in her blog in 2017:
My current works deal with these simultaneous, often conflicting states of existence specifically within the female experience, their nuances and their relationship to the female aesthetic and anatomy. The layers in my work represent different states of consciousness, cognitive awareness, colors narrate emotional states, at varying heights and opaqueness to represent our emotional highs and lows and intensity in a visual way.
This style of representation allows for a subjective perspective of femininity. It varies from the way that women have been traditionally been portrayed throughout history; not as subjects, but objects to be acted upon, two-dimensional figures from a voyeuristic perspective, where femininity is coarsely filtered through the prism of the male gaze.
Featured image: Jennifer Chalklen - portrait. Photo credits Viveash Photography. Courtesy of Addicted Art Gallery