In her latest exhibition at Flowers Gallery, entitled Body/Being, Aleah Chapin embraces the imperfections of the human form to explore and celebrate gender and gender fluidity in contemporary society. The works exhibited, a series of large-scale hyper-realistic nudes, were, according to the gallery’s press release, inspired by her cousin Qwill’s coming out as being gender neutral, and in part documents that transition. Chapin’s portrait of Qwill, along with those entitled Paula and Emmett, capture and monumentalize the psychological and physical processes of transitioning within the spectrum of gender identity. Other works document the various manifestations of the body over the course of one’s lifetime, including the aging Roger, and a new mother with her infant in Rachel and Wes.
Given the anonymity granted through Chapin’s use of stark white backgrounds used throughout the series, and her astounding attention to every scar, freckle and wrinkle, each of her sitters is fully imbued not only with their own distinct character and psyche, but also a consistent dignity and monumentality. Decidedly not sexualized, Chapin’s figures are real and relatable individuals whose stories are readily emoted through her telling depictions of them, which are strengthened incredibly by her technical prowess as a painter. Chapin succeeds in capturing the physical variations associated with two outward identifiers, namely gender and age; but more importantly, her paintings capture the way that these factors coalesce with innumerable others to explore the never-ending possibilities of personal identity.
Aleah Chapin: Body / Being
Flowers Gallery, NYC
May 12 – June 11, 2016
Writing by Jennifer Wolf
Photographs provided by the gallery