Storybook Life: Wells Chandler

30 March - 11 May 2019

Union Gallery is pleased to present Storybook Life the first international solo exhibition of  Wells Chandler, curated by William Gustafson.

Stories are the code that program our realities. Chandler creates a site specific installation expanding the boundaries of pictorial space to compassionately include the viewer and in doing so he creates a heterotopic reality. The artist works in a variety of media but is best known for his crocheted queer arenas which explore themes of gender fluidity, community, belonging, and joy. The possibility of narratives with in a singular work, between the viewer and a piece, and the works relationally to one another allows for an intersectional lens of co-creation in which multiple stories are woven together.

For this installation Chandler takes inspiration from the Dionysiac Frieze in the Villa of Mysteries in Pompeii. The characters within Storybook Life channel a Dionysian energy that results in the union of all works. This fascination with art and the canon of art history stems into the work of Chandler. The artist’s admiration for artistic practice and his idols in David Hockney and Rose Wylie are clear with their depictions in the work. Chandler continues the British narrative with School Bois by creating a work in response to boys wearing skirts in England to protest the dress code when it was hot outside. Chandler’s work plays with the notion of gender blurring the lines with ambiguous, vibrantly abstract figures. His installation allows for endless possibilities of self-discovery and reflection whilst opening many portals to explore our imaginations.

Come with me
And you'll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you'll see
Into your imagination
We'll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world of my creation
What we'll see will defy explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There's nothing to it.
There is no life I know
To compare with pure imagination
Living there you'll be free
If you truly wish to be

Pure Imagination was written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley for the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Wells Chandler (American, b. 1985) lives and works in Queens, NY, USA. He received his MFA from Yale University in 2011 where he received the Ralph Mayer Prize for proficiency in materials and techniques. From 2016-17 he was a recipient of the Sharpe Walentas Studio Program. He has had recent solo exhibitions at Mrs Gallery (Maspeth, NY), Andrew Rafacz (Chicago, IL), and Lord Ludd (Philadelphia, PA). Recent group exhibitions include Choi&Lager (Cologne, Germany), Nathalie Karg (New York, NY), Marinaro Gallery, (New York, NY), Crush Curatorial (New York, NY), Left Field SLO (San Luis Obispo, CA), Dio Horia (Mykonos, Greece), Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY), and 11R (New York, NY). His work has been featured in The New York Times, Hyperallergic, The Huffington Post, TimeOut, Juxtapoze, Modern Painters, Maake Magazine, and AEQAI.