SLATE contemporary is thrilled to present Enough, Oakland based painter Chaves Smith’s first exhibition with the gallery.
Opening Reception: First Friday, November 4, 5–8pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, November 19, 3–4pm.
Gallery Hours: Thursday–Saturday, 12–5pm, and other weekdays by appointment.
Chaves Smith’s paintings employ an intricate language of recurring figures and symbols developed over the course of his life, distilling iconography from his Native American ancestors, combined with visual storytelling from recent lived experiences. While growing up in New Mexico, Chaves’ creativity was closely tied to the skateboarding and graffiti communities. His very first canvases were skateboards, flyers for local bands, and the walls in the towns where lived. Chaves’ newest paintings are characterized by intricate abstractions in rich colors with an emphasis on geometric forms, repeating patterns, and wandering lines. Despite the large scale of this work, the canvases seem to barely contain the energy of his expressions. Chaves means for the playful figures, faces, hands, and symbols that appear in the work to celebrate and interpret human connection. While his work is not explicitly political, it references personal struggle and distills simple truths in a complex time.
Chaves’ current body of work, titled Enough, explores the human challenge to navigate a sense of self worth. In the artists’ words, “Today it seems value and belonging are biased upon class, identity, sex, race and so on. Being of mixed race, growing up from town to town, I learned quickly that I am different. The gut feeling that I am not the same was validated by a society that puts labels and boxes on people, unable to see worth in the unknown.” Through his own creative expression, Chaves attempts to see through the veil of self, and find a place where he feels enough in his mind, body and spirit. Like prayer or meditation, he uses the act of painting to seek and create an internal space. His paintings are therefore the result of a spiritual passage, rather than coming from a forced hand or analytical mind. While the shapes and forms found in Chaves’ work undoubtedly do create symbolism which often leads to a narrative or theme, this is not the goal of the project. For this artist, the images are a result of finding an inner truth and translating its message. As for the viewer, one is invited to step into another’s world, one that is strange, magical, and yet familiar.
Check gallery website for hours and additional info