Patterns of Obsession highlights Claes Gabriel’s and Andrew Chalfen’s unconventional approach to painting and color. Similar to the obsessive patterning found within Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, Gabriel and Chalfen have distinctive methods in the design, layering, and color play of their work.
Claes Gabriel is a Philadelphia-based artist from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He stretches and sews canvases over wooden armatures to construct masks and free-standing statues. The shape of each piece informs its unique personality, which Gabriel creates with bright acrylics, eyes, and lips. Gabriel is influenced by contemporary artists such as Frank Stella and Sam Gilliam, as well as by his father, who depicts the lush and vibrant life of Haiti in his own paintings. Referencing Haitian culture through color, folklore, and his own imagined tales, Gabriel creates god-like presences in each artwork.
Andrew Chalfen is a self-taught artist who paints meticulous, intensely patterned works of art. Originally a musician, Chalfen began drawing as a creative outlet while recovering from hand surgery. Later, he experimented with color, and his patterns began to take life and his concepts started to evolve. Aerial views, fly-over zones, cartography, architectural renderings, fractal blooms, and other natural and man-made patterns inspire his paintings, which he uses as a form of personal meditation. He is currently experimenting with three-dimensionality by cutting out and applying his iconic shapes over already detailed works.