30 Under 35 2019

Chloe Wise Plays with Our Consumption of Gender

Elizabeth Karp-Evans

Photography by Aubrey Mayer

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Chloe Wise and her cat Pluto in her East Village studio, 2018.

Chloe Wise’s paintings engage with the idea of constructed identity by questioning the social systems that dictate how we consume images of women. Her plush portraits—paintings growing in seriousness, both technically and thematically—call into question the power the male gaze continues to hold in contemporary imagery while simultaneously parodying the status quo heteronormative dominance presents. “The people I portray, whether they are women or non-binary, are in control of their own representation, as opposed to the way the female figure has been depicted throughout history,” says Wise.

A painting by Wise for the 2018 Arsenal Contemporary show, “Chère,” 2018.

Wise works in an array of media, including painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation and video—but portraiture remains a constant. Currently, she is preparing a new series for her second solo show with Almine Rech Gallery in London opening in April. The exhibition is a subtle examination of the reversal of painter and painted, connecting male narcissism to the fragility inherent to the very idea of masculinity.

Dismantling contemporary power dynamics is something that Wise has always taken on in her work, with different amounts of urgency. Whether attempting to destabilize the patriarchy through the female gaze or poking fun at ultra-consumerism by placing a designer fashion logo on a piece of bread, beneath it all there is an adept humor that never fails to show up. “I paint what and who I want, in a manner that feels natural, and it just so happens that my politics and sentiments come through. That is the nature of expression.”