Galerie Eva Presenhuber is pleased to present Clouds in My Coffee, the gallery’s first solo exhibition by the American artist Chase Hall. A self-trained artist, Chase Hall works in painting, sculpture, photography, video, and audio to scrutinize America’s past and present while interrogating the realities of being biracial. As a mixed-race male raised across America, Hall examines humanity through his individual hybridity and his usage of coffee as a pigment and cotton canvas as a conceptual white paint. Each canvas is imbued with the legacy of Hall’s personal history and a non-monolithic Black experience.
When Chase Hall started painting about a decade ago, he made his first works in a resourceful, even furtive way. Rather than pursue a formal arts education, he used a nearby art school’s trash. As the departing students left their materials behind after each semester, he appropriated the discarded stretcher bars and partially-used tubes of paint. With these supplies, new cotton canvas, and the inventive use of brewed coffee grounds as a pigment, Hall has produced a powerful, art historically significant body of work that addresses a wide range of socio-cultural issues, from the complexities of race, the weighty histories of coffee and cotton and the ways they are interwoven with the transatlantic trade, a myriad of other specific cultural references and personages as subject matter, and personal meditations on his own place in society.
Functionally, Hall uses coffee grounds in a way that is similar to how pigments are made but with almost alchemical results that create a range of tonal values. He is able to achieve different shades of brown in the backgrounds of his paintings because of the varying levels of coarseness and fineness in the grounds of the bean. A very roughly ground bean will produce a light patina, whereas a fine bean will result in a deep brown. He uses this spectrum to celebrate the subtle beauty of every possible shade and to highlight outmoded systems of racial categorization and their invented artificial binaries.