In Jamie Chase’s work, the full sweep is as important as any singular painting. Just as people adapt to new situations and relationships, so the artist’s paintings chronicle a fascinating metamorphosis from one canvas to the next. It’s Chase’s effort to depict the philosophy of evolutionary consciousness, an ethos that has guided him in his career and life.
Chase was born in San Francisco, California in 1954. His grandmother, who he calls his “guardian angel”, first recognized his talent when he was five years old and signed him up for the first of many art classes.
After high school Chase quickly moved from the San Francisco Academy of Art to the San Francisco Art Institute, and then left school to travel Europe. He lived in various cities and educated himself on the masters before returning to San Francisco in the early 1970s. There he painted murals for a bookstore, drawing inspiration from ancient Egyptian art, European cave paintings and Native American art.
In the following years, Chase’s experience with the empirical methods of the Renaissance masters and the measured abstraction of the “primitive” styles began to converge. He moved to Santa Fe in 1980 and started painting abstract landscapes, but soon began experimenting with non-objective painting and abstracted figurative work as well.
“I’m looking at my art not so much as a trailblazer to a new vocabulary of art, and more as something in a line of art history,” the artist says. “I’m rooted in the classics.” Each work refers to the ones that have come before, and also addresses a new facet of his ongoing thought.
This is how Chase has come to understand “evolution”. The artist’s abstracted figures have become his companions on this lifelong journey. The female nudes at times become so abstract as to seem like columns of pure internal energy. They’re inseparable from their surroundings, encapsulated by external energy fields of pure color.
In this way, the artist refines and concentrates reality to its essence: each person is a unique expression of energy within the larger sphere, an individual dynamo connected to the basic power source. Having defined this relationship between form and space, Chase takes the opportunity to endlessly explore its ever-changing nature.
“I like organic formulations with a relationship to the real world. What I seek to do is construct a figuration around the spiritual conditions of the being,” Chase says. “The subtext of human experience is always there.”
1973-75 Academy of Art College, San Francisco, CA
1975-77 San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA
1989 Master class with Nathan Oliveria, Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, NM