An appreciation of craft runs through the paintings of Joel Chavez. His art references classical painters, woodworkers, and machinists. His painting style is studied, full of fine detail and raw, expressionist marks that reveal the Filipino artist’s pride in how he’s refined his own skills.
Chavez’s reimagining of neoclassical paintings, particularly those of William-Adolphe Bouguereau, started in 2017. An angelic couple on a swing, a partially naked mother of four, a disreputable doctor performing unwanted experiments. To him, the works of these master painters are an homage to the progress of humankind, representing a push for reason and rationality over religion and power.
在菲律宾艺术家 Joel Chavez 的绘画作品中，满是对传统工艺的赞美：从古典主义画家，到木工和机械师的作品，这些元素为他的创作提供着源源不断的灵感。细节之精美、表现力之大胆，无不在彰显他对自己画技的自信，以及他对绘画风格的细致考究。
2017 年，Joel 便开始尝试重绘新古典主义风格，尤其是威廉·阿道夫·布格罗（William-Adolphe Bouguereau）的作品：一对坐在秋千上的天使夫妇、四个孩子的半裸母亲、声誉卓著的医生正在实验台前做着无用功。他认为布格罗的画曾经推动了一场重要的艺术运动，能够在致力提升画作质量的同时，也表达了追求理性的人性光辉，而非宗教和权力。
“My early works were portraits of the distinguished men of history; real people from our society,” the 28-year-old painter says. He explains how he was focused on celebrating these individuals who he considered as great men. But as a means of showing appreciation to Bouguereau and his peers, he chose to depict their paintings rather than their faces. He points out that Bouguereau was one of the most productive artists of his time, with over 800 completed masterpieces to his name.
“我早期的作品都是一些杰出历史人物的肖像画，是真实存在过的人物。”这位 28 岁的画家解释道，他当时的创作主要是为了缅怀历史上那些有过重要贡献的伟人。特别的是，为了致敬布格罗和其他画家，他选择临摹他们的作品，而不仅仅是他们的面孔。他指出，布格罗是那个时代最多产的艺术家之一，曾创作了 800 多幅画作。
Beyond his ode to great painters, Chavez also looks to celebrate the skilled worker, doing so by populating his pieces with intricate woodwork and machinery. “I am grateful to them as they contributed a lot to the art industry,” he says. “Their expertise was very significant to civilization, producing essential furniture and tools.” Society may not consider them as artists, but Chavez certainly does.
除了致敬著名画家之外，Joel 还希望通过画作中错综复杂的木制品和机械细节来赞颂工匠们的精湛工艺。他说：“我非常感谢他们为艺术行业做出的巨大贡献。他们为人类文明付出了巨大贡献，生产出我们生活中不可或缺的道具。”虽然普世观念没能将他们归在艺术家范畴之内，但在 Joel 看来，他们也是不折不扣的艺术家。
The steampunk-esque contraptions that appear throughout his work were introduced as Chavez sought to define himself beyond the painters he revered. Originally, his work revolved around floral motifs, but one day, while cleaning out his family’s stock room, he came across some old machine parts and he found himself marveling at the beauty of these man-made gadgets. “Since then I’ve been scrutinizing the physical components of machinery closely.”
抛开这些经典的元素之外，Joel 也在作品中增添了属于自己的个性烙印 —— 一些带有蒸汽朋克式的奇特风格贯穿在他的画作中。创作初期，他描绘的大多都是花卉之类的图案，直到一天，在清理家里的储藏室时偶然发现一些老旧的机器零件，这些精巧的人造机器呈现出一种独特的美感，并对他产生了深深的触动，“从那时起，我就沉迷于观察机器的复杂组件。
Chavez’s work is rooted in realism as a foundation, but is stretched into different realms by bold abstract shapes and distressed brush strokes, with faces of his subject matters occasionally washed away. “I want people to be able to appreciate beauty in all its forms, not just in humans or established fields,” he explains. “I hope people can think more freely.” His experimental brushstrokes also emphasize movement and depth. The bright, warm marks bounce off the somber colors of the realistic depictions and hover above the cavernous burnt umber backgrounds.
Although the defaced features and brash marks may, at first, give off a hint of aggression, Chavez says his work is tranquil, both in the result and act. Painting is meditative for him. “I find nothing but joy through immersion in my painting and the themes I work with,” he says. “I’m happy that I’m able to express myself through these means.”
人物五官上大胆的表达方式看上去可能有些激进，但在 Joel 看来，他的作品其实是一种“平和”的表达。这种平和不仅是指最终作品的氛围，也是指他的创作过程，对他而言，绘画本身就是一种修炼与冥想。他说：“沉浸于绘画和创作中，我唯一的感受便是喜悦，我也很庆幸能够通过绘画来表达自己。”