Graduates 2020: Chloe Neil: Painting

My paintings orbit around ideas of absence, separation and secrecy.

These ideas stem from my early childhood experience of parental loss, and the subsequent emptiness left behind by something that once was. I sift through my past, unravelling vague memories and whispers of conversation to scatter throughout my paintings like breadcrumbs. 

Objects are replaced by projections of feelings, expressed through a lexicon of mark-making that encompasses pencil scribbles and scrawls of poetry alike. I handle a variety of media in playful and expressive ways – crumbling, crushing, slicing, circling, dragging, dusting. The aesthetic of the drawn line, whether it be pastel, charcoal or pencil, recalls childhood, and thus is visually very significant to my practice. 

I have repeatedly worked into each painting, employing a ruthless process of inscription and erasure that is reminiscent of Cy Twombly, whose layering process is integral to his practice. Twombly also experimented with the legibility of the writings found across his paintings, and this interplay is reflected within my own canvases. Words sit within the works, hidden amongst painterly gestures and often dissolving in legibility, reduced to another form of mark-making. 

When paint interrupts poetry, vulnerability is interfered with. A conflict of my own creation arises in my decision to offload poetry onto canvas, only to cover it up again in a repeated process of inscription and erasure. I strive to explore the limits of vulnerability, embodied in the multitude of layers that lay beneath each painting’s surface. Taking place is an exchange between the seen and the unseen, and, more obliquely, the said and the unsaid. 

The recent lockdown has forced these past, far-away feelings to resurface. Now, feelings of distance and detachment recall my past while simultaneously embodying my present. With two timelines merging, memories and moments have blurred together, hence the painterly moments of clarity that arise from fields of creamy white. Distance manifests in these negative spaces and the languid floating of the marks pulling away from one another, while the literal edges of collaged materials physicalise separation. 

Each mark performs as a translation of emotion. Through this lens, each painting performs as a collective of these emotions: felt, forgotten and, finally, felt once more. 


How have you found your time at Brighton?

I have always loved being a part of the welcoming and dynamic studio environment that Brighton naturally cultivates. Since the course began, I have been continually inspired and impressed by my painting peers; each day I felt excited to come into the studios and work beside such clever and experimental artists. The constant hum of creative energy fuelled my growth as an artist throughout the three years, as did our tutors who challenged my artistic processes and pushed me to defend my ideas. I was encouraged to reconstruct every aspect of my approach towards the painted surface, taught to be equal parts experimental and critical. 

My time at Brighton has been incredibly valuable, and it was heartbreaking to leave the studios and the people so much sooner than expected due to the lockdown. It’s still difficult to process that I won’t be going back! 


What are your plans after Graduation?

Though graduating into such unfamiliar territory is daunting, I’m excited to rise to the challenge and develop my artistic practice further. I plan to continue taking commissions while finding my feet as a graduate, and I have ambitions to pursue an MA the following year.

Follow Chloe on Instagram

See more of Chloe’s work

Find out more about BA(Hons) Painting

See more of Chloe’s work at the Graduate Show 2020

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