Still life from a different perspective: Liese Chavez's "deadpan girls" at Arts at Denver
There's a whimsical element in Liese Chavez's paintings. A woman is baking a pie, but there's feathers next to the pie, or a woman is holding a pear in her hand, but the pear is a house with a smoking chimney. The single maiden in a seemingly empty rustic house adds a fairy tale element, while the objects the women interact with derive from folk tales, like the blackbird pie. The result combines common still life objects with fantasy, and that's how Chavez takes her still lifes beyond the mundane in the group show, Intimate Views, Interiors and Still Lifes, at Arts at Denver.
"Tea Time," Liese Chavez
"I had two distinct areas of work when I was teaching myself how to paint and draw," she says. "One was sort of cartoon things, almost stick figures. The other was a more realistic artwork that I was trying to develop. Both kind of came together and the pieces I do now are kind of cartoons, and yet I'm trying to create a convincing reality to share.
Sharing with her audience is an important part of Chavez's work. She says she spent a lot of time learning how to tell stories with her artwork -- a quality she thinks is now inseparable from her paintings: "All I want to paint now is narrative artwork," she explains. "If it doesn't tell a story then I'm not excited about it."
Chavez tells subtle stories, though. The "deadpan" look of her characters, the hidden meaning of the objects in her paintings, and the tinted tone, all create a stories that beg interpretation. The details, too, such as the smoking chimney, are such a small part of the composition of a painting that the it leaves you feeling disoriented, which might be explained by what Chavez is trying to do with her work.