Julie Saul Gallery announces our first solo show with London/Botswana based artist Chloe Sells. The exhibition corresponds with the publication by GOST of her first monograph entitled Swamp. Sells begins her photographic process with large format negatives that are shot in Botswana. They are then printed in the darkroom in London where she combines them with other materials, printing intuitively on large rolls of paper to create unique works. The resulting images are mysterious, sculptural and permeated with intense color.
The works in Under the Sun were all photographed in the Okavango Swamps of Botswana. Sells describes Botswana as a terrain “where the last contours of the Rift Valley shift downwards, tilting ever so slightly, to bring the rains from the highlands of Angola, in the form of an annual flood into the Kalahari sands. This water that flows into the northwest corner of the country creates a swampland of immense wildness and beauty.”
Encompassing large-scale analogue prints and small painted photographs, all unique, the works in Under the Sun form a conversation about proximity and distance, rendering the landscape through a number of different perspectives. Some of the images are details of flora, while others are aerial views of the environment. A rhythm is formed among the overlaid textures that represent topography, patterns that echo African craft and culture, and saturated, vibrant colors.
The exhibit is partly comprised of a series of forty small paintings made directly on 4 x 5” contact prints. The imagery on these intimate prints, a format often used by photographers as a reference tool, is the starting point for the paintings that draw the viewer in with their infinite variety of treatments and exploration combining image and mark.
“In the still, blackness of the darkroom there is magic to be found, and energy that is willing to tell its secrets through harnessed fragments of light. More immersive large pictures, some of which are found within the smaller contact prints echo and extend the process of mapping a wilderness, creating a ‘story within a story’. The story of the place is a weaving where some threads are drawn from memories of experiences while others are created and colored purely by imagination. The story changes like a kaleidoscope with each telling.”
Originally from Aspen, this is Sells’ first solo show in the United States. Her work has previously been exhibited in London, Holland and Switzerland. She received her MFA from Central St. Martin’s in London and her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design.