Forming a Relationship to Art: 1962—1988 Lyon, France
The life of an artist involves a certain continuous passion. At a very early age, Philippe Chambon developed a passionate interest in artistic expression that overrode all else. Born in Lyon, France to a young couple that encouraged and supported his appreciation for all things artistic, Chambon was exposed to the work of many of the great artists of Western Europe. Vacations in Italy and Spain allowed him to experience the wide range of subject and object in painting, sculpture and architecture, from primitive cave paintings to modern masterpieces.
As a child, Philippe could always be found in a little corner of his room that he had christened his “artist’s studio”, well-stocked with gouache, watercolors, colored pencils and stacks of paper that he could use to express himself in unexpected ways. Like many young creatives, Chambon found his schoolwork to be uninteresting, and was more inclined to experience the world on his own. Chambon’s emerging style was greatly influenced by his discovery of modern masters such as Kandinsky, Malevich and Delaunay. Even today, he remains fascinated by the life stories behind these artists and their work.
Arriving in California and Discovering the Synchromist Movement: 1988—1996
After arriving in the United States in 1988, Chambon set up his first studio in Los Angeles, where he continued to develop his visual language. He drew inspiration from the works of American abstract expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. During this period Chambon gained the strength and vision to forge a unique, distinctive abstract vocabulary and an unmistakable style entirely his own.
Discovering the work of Stanton MacDonald-Wright and the avant-garde Synchromist Movement of the early twentieth century finally brought Chambon’s iconography into focus. The connection of music to abstraction represented an awakening for the artist, a completely new way to channel his creative energy. The concept that abstract art requires no more of a representational explanation than a piece of music was particularly appealing to Chambon. He prefers that each viewer have the chance to create their own interpretation of his work.
Much as it had for MacDonald-Wright, Morgan Russell and Joseph Fleck, Synchromism allowed Chambon to experience visual musical creativity as a connected, intertwined universe. Comparing the qualities of music to color, and the way in which colors can reverberate in their own way on the canvas, is very evident in Chambon’s work from this period. By interweaving layers of color into a complex tapestry of vibration, these paintings challenge the viewer to discover both the intensity of the visual notes, and the peaceful moments between them.
The Desert Experience and Linearism: 1996—Today
Following a move to the desert oasis of Palm Springs, Chambon deepened his studies of Abstract Expressionism, refining and broadening his style. The calm, mature energy of the desert offered itself to Chambon in the form of a deeper, more measured artistic stance. It was during this period that Linearism began to dominate his work, as Chambon began to rely more and more firmly on the importance of lines and curves in defining space and movement.
Chambon continued to paint until 2001, when he began to explore three-dimensional creativity through clay. His sculpted and carved ceramic art pieces can be found in collections all over the world, and are of particular interest for their unique shapes and incised iconography.
This three-dimensional period inspired Chambon to develop his paintings along a transformed expressionism, Spatial Linearism, capturing a vivid perspective and depth that is totally unexpected in abstract painting. His complex use of white to draw the viewer into the imagery is an instantly identifiable characteristic of his creative process.
Chambon’s distinctive abstract vocabulary creates a highly visual, interactive experience. His painting technique utilizes multiple layers of texture and color, allowing the interplay of transparency and opacity to forge a unique and powerful vision. His “action painting” technique allows spontaneous, unplanned movement to create the foundation of each piece. As an Abstract Expressionist, Chambon does not plan or pre-conceive his paintings; rather, each canvas takes on a life of its own under his vigorous strokes.
Spontaneous lyrical abstractions are often associated with his style; many art collectors respond to the work in its relation to graffiti or urban art, or are instantly drawn to the musical associations of his visual language. Like Kandinsky, Chambon strives for an appreciation of the inner resonance and mystery of his work, and hopes he leaves enough unsaid for the imagination to be fully engaged.
Statement by the Artist:
“Painting for me begins with the blank canvas, and an open question. Nothing is planned or arranged beforehand; the inspiration must come from within as I remain open to the answers that emerge from the paint itself. My ideas, thoughts, and emotions become colors and shapes as I move across the canvas.
”I am forever grateful to the great pioneering creators that have gone before me. Their work freed the artist from the object, opening the door to a daring and exciting world of creative expression.” —Philippe Chambon
Chambon’s formal artistic training began at the age of 6, when he was singled out for exceptional creative aptitude. He quickly oriented himself towards the modern styles, which were well-represented in the museums and private collections of his native Lyon.
At 7 years old, the City of Lyon selected Philippe’s gouache on paper to be shown in a special exhibit of children’s art. His urban landscape depiction of Lyon’s Festival of Lights drew much attention from attendees, and further fueled his passion for colors and modern composition.