‘The Surface Is as Important as the Image:’ See How Artist Daniel Crews-Chubb Builds His Magnificently Textured Works

The British artist's first New York exhibition opens this month at Timothy Taylor with a series of new, heavily impastoed paintings.

Daniel Crews-Chubb Acrobat (Forest Green) (2020).
Daniel Crews-Chubb Acrobat (Forest Green) (2020). © Daniel Crews-Chubb, courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London / New York.

“This process allows me to edit quickly and change my mind,” says London-based artist Daniel Crews-Chubb as he rips a piece of cloth off one painting and staples it to another. His process is both fast and slow as he laboriously dyes and stains canvases, cuts, tears, staples, and stretches, then smears on paint and line draws with charcoal. 

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Flowers (red, green, and yellow) (2020).

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Flowers (red, green, and yellow) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Timothy Taylor, London / New York.

The works he is making are textural, often extravagantly so, and, as the artist will emphasize, need to be seen in person. “Cave Continuum” at Timothy Taylor Gallery, his first New York exhibition, is an opportunity to do so, with nine of his latest collaged canvases and six drawings made especially for the show. 

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Mare Imbrium with Moths (pink and green) (2020).

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Mare Imbrium with Moths (pink and green) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Timothy Taylor, London / New York.

Crews-Chubb creates in series, working on multiple canvases at the same time; his imagery is simplified and repetitive, refined to archetypal imagery, filled with heads, totemic figures, and—most recently—still lifes (a nod to Van Gogh), drawing out the primary motifs that repeated themselves across cultures and times.

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Flowers (yellow) (2020).

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Flowers (yellow) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Timothy Taylor, London / New York.

But these similarities also underscore what distinguishes each of his works, which is their materiality, the impact of their surfaces, small vacillations of clotted paint, and effects of swaths of canvas collaged together. In heavily impastoed, complex surfaces one can see the legacies of de Kooning, Van Gogh, Arte Povera, and Neo Expressionist artists, but what the artist is after is more than a revival of the past. 

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Head (Serpents and drummer, pink, green, yellow) (2020).

Daniel Crews-Chubb, Head (Serpents and drummer, pink, green, yellow) (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Timothy Taylor, London / New York.

“We live in post-modernity, an oversaturated world of disposable images, where at the touch of a button we can access the whole archival history of art. In a way, I’m a reactionary—my surfaces are a reaction against the flatness of a digital image. They corrode the boundary between sculpture and painting,” Crews-Chubb summed up. 

See the artist at work below. 

Daniel Crews-Chubb: Cave Continuum” is on view at Timothy Taylor from February 6–March 14, 2020.


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