El Gato Chimney is an Milan-based artist who paints imaginative and symbolic scenes that explore the dualisms and crossovers between good and evil, life and death. Populated with anthropomorphized animals, fire-breathing demons, and masked religious-type figures, Chimney’s work resembles the kind of metaphorical, fantastical visions you might imagine on a medieval tapestry, where every detail is interwoven with a hidden significance. Intensifying the scope of his art is the fact that his paintings syncretize spiritual traditions and practices from around world and throughout history, including alchemy, occultism, and folklore. Brimming with wit, insight, and imagination, Chimney’s work is a modern interpretation of ancient art and ongoing philosophic themes.
One of the most compelling aspects of Chimney’s symbol-filled imagery is the apparent moral ambiguity. The creatures inhabiting the vast, melancholic landscapes are unclear in their intentions, with their strange, chimerical bodies appearing both gentle and wicked. Many of them are preparing for abstract duals with one another, the reasons for which remain unknown. In a statement provided on Chimney’s Bio page, this confounding of good and evil, darkness and light is eloquently described:
“The universe he portrays is dual and deceptive, like a good nightmare: a world constantly split between a daytime Arcadia and an inhabited and unquiet night, where the dividing line is clearly visible and easy to cross, both a danger signal and an invitation to disobedience” (Source).
If you look throughout the landscapes, the backdrops are frequently divided by bold demarcations of light and dark, with no apparent barriers between them; one can “switch sides” with a surprising ease. What Chimney seems to be depicting here is a pervasive ambiguity, a hybridic reading of morality and spirituality that reveals there is no singular conception of good and evil; instead, we are all just navigating the joys and misfortunes of existence. As the above statement continues, “the artist wants to assert that celebrating life and escaping death is what joins all beings” (Source).
Visit Chimney’s website and Facebook page and immerse yourself in his dualistic, symbolic visions, the interpretations of which are quite literally endless. His work will be exhibited at the Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn from March 5 – April 30. (Via designboom)