The St. Louis based artist will present new paintings and a wallpaper installation showcasing his vivid abstract and figurative compositions. Strolling Astronomer opens September 5 and will remain on view through October 5, 2019. The artist will attend the opening reception.
Strolling Astronomer features a collection of paintings that are loosely inspired by LaChance’s memories of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, where he spent a prolonged period of time. A popular summer beach destination, Old Orchard Beach, Maine is known for its seven-mile-long beach lined with clam shacks, souvenir shops, pier, and seaside amusement park, Palace Playland. LaChance’s titles, candy-colored palettes, and forms subtly reference this seaside town. In the namesake work, Strolling Astronomer, a female figure strolls over a series of colorful cylindrical forms that mimic the Grand Orient Fun House’s floor rollers, which throw patrons off-balance inside the Palace Playland attraction. In addition, LaChance sees his studio practice as a balance between expertise and luck, stating “There’s an obvious corollary between the skill vs. chance of carnival games and the studio process and in the way the objects are revised and repainted to increase their appeal.”
LaChance’s paintings are characterized by bold shapes, vibrant colors, and modernist compositions. Collage-like in appearance, these abstract arrangements are comprised of a patchwork of painted surfaces and patterns that fit together like a puzzle. Many of the artist’s paintings are comprised of bits and pieces of older canvases, found materials, and specifically designed components. The juxtaposition of these different elements, often created at drastically different times, allows the paintings to, “possess time themselves, like film or music,” as the artist describes. In addition, this deconstructive approach, “creates a range of color and handling not achievable in a singular support because the very construction methods of sewing or assembling unify the elements as parts of a whole.”
In his practice, the artist sources patterns from vintage graphic design, fashion, art history, and the natural world. As LaChance indicates, “A good deal of the patterns and surfaces take their cue from the immediacy of signs, symbols, techniques, and semiotics in consumerist and vernacular cultures; letters appear as a wry reference to narrative, representational and expressionist painting.”
Beyond their Pop-sensibility and bright colors, LaChance’s abstract paintings engage with Gestalt aesthetics, a theory of perception that describes the relationship between the parts and the whole of visual experience. LaChance is concerned with the effect each seemingly simple shape has on the viewer's overall perception. Oscillating between the individual elements and the totalizing whole, the artist’s paintings have the tendency to shift back and forth between multiple interpretations. Our minds attempt to make sense of the cropped patterns in Air Waves, identifying a curve of a petal or the swoop of a cursive letter, pulling together narratives that weave their way through abstract forms.
William LaChance lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated with a BFA from The Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from Indiana University. His works can be found in the collections of the Lambert International Airport, St Louis, MO; U.S. Federal Reserve, St. Louis, MO; National Broadcasting Company, New York, NY; and Nike Inc., Beaverton, OR. Most recently, LaChance has exhibited in Athens, Copenhagen, London, Norway, Australia, and Los Angeles. In 2017, LaChance's mural adorning St. Louis’ Kinloch Park basketball court was named the best-designed basketball court in the world by Architectural Digest.