“Time has a way of flying by . . . but what can you do?”
–Jennifer Krause Chapeau
From the Road is a 10-year survey of landscape paintings by artist Jennifer Krause Chapeau. Each painting depicts a landscape observed from the vantage point of a moving vehicle. The objects of her attention range from the American Southwest to the French countryside. Her paintings are as much about the passing of time as they are about light, and its changing affects, on the terrain.
To walk like a hunter through the woods is not in Krause Chapeau’s temperament. She does not specialize in majestic scenes of nature; she prefers sundry roadside scenes. The land is not wild, idyllic, or hospitable, but fleeting. These vistas are temporary, on the verge of disappearing, as she bounds down the highway.
This series of paintings is based on the artist’s personal snapshots that were found in drawers, folders, and manila envelopes, many of which are 14 years old or more. She relies on spontaneity to choose what subjects to capture. There is not a direct tie to a particular landscape, but intuitive response to what she sees. Krause Chapeau is a roadrunner and her domain is the highway, which may seem odd for a landscape painter.
Like many Americans, her experience of nature tends to be mediated through nostalgia or another source, like photography—not direct experience. As a landscape painter, her challenge is not to endure subzero temperatures and blackfly-infested summers to create a representational scene, but to suggest motion and light: landscape as moving target, all soft focus and subtle blur.
Seeing a landscape in motion was a revelation for her. Speed eliminated detail, reducing entire scenes to color and light. “I think the solitude of driving alone for long periods allows your mind to really wander,” says Krause Chapeau. “The compositions and textures are constantly changing and flowing one into another while driving. It is a fascinating visual experience for me.”
At first glance, Krause Chapeau’s unadorned landscapes can strike the viewer as clear-eyed depictions of nature. A lazy mountain lounges on a desolate patch of land in twilight, as in “New Mexico Plain.” A chorus line of pine trees skinny-dips in autumnal sunlight, as in “Fleeting Fall.” On repeated viewings, her work becomes more complex and engaging, as it hovers between conventional representation and minimalist abstraction. For example, in the paintings “Morning Frost” or “French Plain,” she sees the landscape as a geometric division of space, sensuously worked surface, and luminous color.
Unlike photorealist painters, Krause Chapeau uses photographs as a starting point rather than as a model to be meticulously copied as an end unto itself. She is interested in the process of applying paint to canvas not only as a means of conveying information but also to embody a poetic force.
To view these paintings is to exist in a place between hopeful anticipation and regret. A roadside is not a definite location, but something that is neither here nor there, a thing between destination points. Her photographs of the landscape provide her an outlet to ruminate on memory, place, and time. The blurry images of her paintings are an appropriate metaphor to suggest time and motion, but they also highlight the sensuality of paint.
The artist, starry-eyed and mesmerized, staring through a car window to the frozen fields, and beyond, as the terrain continuously unfolds like a cinema reel.
Jennifer Krause Chapeau (b. 1962) received her B.F.A. from University of Michigan, School of Art and Design, in 1984; and attended the Studio and Stage Design Forum, in New York City, from 1985—1987. Krause Chapeau’s work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. She is an official member of the United Scenic Artists Local 829, 1987—present. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
~ Brendan Carroll
The exhibition will be on view at Majestic Theatre Condominiums through May 28, 2012. For further information, please visit us at SilvermanBuilding.com or call number (201) 435-8000.
Jennifer Krause Chapeau, From the Road is the seventh exhibition that Brendan Carroll will organize for SILVERMAN.
SILVERMAN has presented the works of Michelle Doll, Tim Heins, Megan Maloy, Laurie Riccadonna, Thomas John Carlson, Tim Daly, Ann Flaherty, Scott Taylor, Jason Seder, Sara Wolfe, Beth Gilfilen, Andrzej Lech, Hiroshi Kumagai, Tom McGlynn, Victoria Calabro, Asha Ganpat, Darren Jones, Ryan Roa, Laura Napier, Risa Puno, Nyugen E. Smith, Amanda Thackray, and Kai Vierstra.