Theresa Chromati: DOOM BLOOM
Oct 20
Dec 16, 2023
Theresa Chromati

Tureen is honored to announce DOOM BLOOM, a solo exhibition of recent paintings by Baltimore-based artist Theresa Chromati. In this series of work Chromati advances the story of her ever present central figure, stretching the bounds of human form and experience. But here the interior world of the paintings colonizes the gallery space. They choreograph their own witnessing and anoint the viewer with moments of darkness and illumination, in turn. This is Chromati’s invitation to feel painting as she herself does.

The paintings on view revel in the nonlinearity of their visual narrative. So too does the exhibition’s title, DOOM BLOOM, a cyclical climax and denouement in no temporal order. As in nature, the scrotum flowers that orbit Chromati’s central figure bloom and wither in equal measure. Theirs is a fecund world free of human constraints like time and body. Limbs disappear and reappear, tonality shifts from fleshy to cosmic in alchemical displays of paint application. Conventions of the medium fall by the wayside as quickly as do those earthy properties. Black lines dissect the canvas and the central figure leaving no visible trace of pictorial logic. Soft sculptural protrusions become playful invitations to engage, or warnings against engaging, this dynamism in three dimensions; a fabric phallus belies the central figure’s assumed femininity but is read just as clearly as an errant nipple, a code switch in form that advances the beauty of the illogic. These forms should not exist but yet through a triumph of self-determination they do. Bloom is post-doom, doom is post-bloom and back again.

Structural and spiritual support for Chromati’s central figure is as endemic to the work as its singular logic. In some moments languid and restful and in others stretched to acrobatic lengths, her shape endures the breadth of physical manipulation. Yet the form’s integrity persists through that range of motion by virtue of both its internal and external support. Ever present in each canvas are the scrotum flowers. Chromati offers these creatures to the central figure for succor through her journey, a conceit perhaps akin to the sofa or lamppost offered by Jenny Saville to the precarious bodies in her early work. Appearing again in cast aluminum and fastened atop the steel frame surrounding the exhibition’s central canvas, the scrotum flowers even transcend two dimensionality in their manner of support. The bracing armature on which the canvas hangs holds fast the chaos mounting inside its object of protection and gives space for the flowers to do the same—the symbiosis of organic and inorganic that nods to the works’ dual logic while serving an even higher purpose. Recalling Chris Ofili’s holy canvas mounts, these rods and flora serve as the otherworldly trappings of a more universal spiritual journey—a system of belief, however singular, rests on the strength of a multitudinous chorus.

The exhibition’s visual experience is also integral and parallel’s the built surface of the canvas. Moving through the space, the viewer vacillates between light and dark, guise and glint; their transitory state mimics that of the central figure. It also serves as a physical embodiment of the way Chromati builds surfaces to surround her. Glitter, the black line, the abrupt tonal shifts, even the steel frame of the central canvas, these elements working in tandem create definition, a buildup of residue both material and experiential.  The compression and release of the gallery’s visual field turns the viewer into a simulacrum of the central figure, a novel way for the artist to broaden the scope of her narrative. With this exhibition Chromati pushes herself and her figure closer to flourish and its aftermath.  

This world is most of all generous. It is expansive and unbridled, granting permission that humanly convention often denies. The spirit thrives in its war with emotionality and each battle leaves its trace. By deepening our visual experience, Theresa Chromati grants her central figure the infinity of self she stretches to find.