"Sink or Swim"
Acrylic on Wood Panel
"Sink or Swim" is the first painting I did for a new series I’m working on for a show at The Shooting Gallery, called "33 Knots" which opens Feb. 10, 2007.
This is the fourth series of paintings I have produced and it developed much like the others. I start with a single image or idea. When that is finished I ask myself, "What came before this and what should come next?" Then I paint those paintings, ask myself the same question; ideas build on themselves and grow and develop into a narrative.
Storytellers have always had a huge influence on me, way more than any individual artist. A good story, one that expresses a person’s views and experiences, sparks my imagination and drives my creativity. I get inspiration from all types of storytelling: children’s books, television, movies, comic books, novels, music, they all give me different ideas and they feed off each other and inspire me in different ways.
The most recurring theme in all my paintings is "Man vs. Nature", more specifically, man’s abuse of nature and nature’s ways of fighting back. In my first series, "It Tastes like Whiskey", I used a tornado as a character in my paintings that takes its revenge on man for his wrong doings. In "The Collector’s Conscience" I used germs for the same reason. In "Fire Season" I used fire, and in this new series, water.
I use a lot of symbolism in my paintings that tie together the individual pieces within the series. In "Sink or Swim", the sailboat is a way of harnessing the power of nature without harming it. The pirates and the bottles represent debauchery and abuse of nature. The kid in the water represents innocence or the loss thereof. The banjo represents a simpler time that has come and gone.
My hope is when people view my work, they will be able to enjoy the individual pieces as well as get a greater understanding of what I’m trying to say with the entire series.
By Paul Chatem
See "Sink or Swim" and more at:
"33 Knots" New paintings by Paul Chatem and Mike Maxwell
Opening reception: Feb. 10, 2007
@ The Shooting Gallery
839 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94109