CHAPELLE, Chantal

Nationality: Belgium
Website: Website
Belgian artist
Born in Mortsel 1954
Lives and works in Antwerp

Figures as Question Marks…

Chantal Chapelle is a Belgian artist whose imaginary situations explore disquieting experiences. Her enigmatic images may include large numbers of figures or a lonely individual, all placed in strangely desolate landscapes. This artist also fabricates an enigmatic form of architecture whose scale and function are impossible to determine.

Perhaps the most disturbing of Chantal Chapelle’s images are her crowds of formless and featureless humans, evenly distributed over an otherwise empty landscape. For these anonymous look-alikes there is no escape from conformity and blandness.

This artist’s architectural constructions test the limits of reality; there is no scale to indicate what is going on: are we being confronted with the monstrous or the miniature? The structures are made even more mysterious by the complete lack of a human presence. A bland cube, for example, has no distinguishing features except perhaps an external staircase. The purpose of this strange structure is to be found up the stairs, but the viewer may not wish to contemplate entering this uninviting prospect.

In some works, small figures stand at the base of overwhelming structures. Like the viewers, they need to decide whether these intrusions on the landscape represent either a shelter or a threat. Elsewhere, a figure confronting a giant sphere may be torn between a sense of fear or wonder. In another uncomfortable predicament, a lone individual is adrift at sea, barely above the surface.

Chantal Chapelle’s images are intentionally indistinct. A distant dog, for example, is portrayed with such absolute economy that it barely exists. Similarly, an aircraft is reduced to a minimal overhead cross, and may no longer be identifiable. Figures are inchoate and without detail; they represent no-one in particular. Small and insignificant, they appear to be players in a private nightmare, the nightmare of looking for the quintessential nature of things.

The artist was born in 1954 in Belgium, where she continues to live and work. She has had many solo exhibitions there since 1978, and has also been included in group exhibitions in London, San Francisco, Cologne and Barcelona.