How Chase Hall Is Changing The Way We See Life’s Gray Areas
Art3 Minutes Read

How Chase Hall Is Changing The Way We See Life’s Gray Areas

April 4, 2022 Share

Chase Hall’s practice across painting and sculpture is to activate and disrupt generational traumas encoded in American history. 

As a child and even through his teenage years, the artist Chase Hall says he was always observant and imaginative.

Born in 1993 in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and now based in New York, Hall makes paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos, and sound works that “scrutinise America’s past and present while interrogating the realities of being biracial,” according to a release

Chase Hall
Chase Hall in his studio. Photograph by Clément Pascal

He is best known for his figurative paintings that draw on his own experience. They are notable for his use of coffee grinds which he embeds in white cotton canvases; both materials are ones with deep connections and histories within the trans-Atlantic slave trade. He has said that his work attempts to articulate his theory of “whiteness as acne.”

The 29-year-old self-taught artist’s experimentation with mark-making, colour, and tone on raw cotton canvas produces figures rendered with a partial vibrancy: you may see a face but not a torso, an arm but not a nose. It is a read on history, where Black life—the achievements and the small moments of joy—seemingly disappear into the abyss of memory.

Chase Hall
Chase Hall in his studio. Photograph by Clément Pascal

Since he never went to any type of art school, he explained in an interview with Ssence that as Hall walked the streets of the city of New York, the creative would search for the faces of those he encountered for likenesses to put down on the canvas in a moral, fervid, cartoon-like expression. 

So, he paints the outsider: the traveller, the rebel, the jazzman, the horse jockey, the folk hero. “I don’t necessarily believe my work needs to affirm anything already said,” he explains. “I’m more interested in creating these confusing, complex reads of what painting can be that question my views and the viewer.”

Chase Hall
Chase Hall, Beneath the Underdog, 2020, 48″ x 36″ (left) and Chase Hall, Eric Dolphy, 2020, 20″ x 16″ (right).

Hall depicts subjects such as African American jazz musicians, a birder, or a man running from a police car with bright, energetic brushstrokes. He examines how Blackness has been flattened and fetishised in American culture. 

Hall attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Chicago, Seoul, and beyond. His work belongs to the collections of the Rubell Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami. In 2021, he was named one of Forbes magazine’s 30 Under 30.

Chase Hall
Chase Hall. Photograph by Clément Pascal.
Author: Michelle Laver