Dominic Chambers
Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin
Dominic Chambers is one of 120 artists featured in the major group survey When We See Us: A Century of Black Figurative Painting (until 27 October).
Two paintings of his, All This Life in Us and Blue Park Lovers (both 2020), are included alongside works by leading artists such as Michael Armitage and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. The former work by Chambers is an "attempt at representing, through the language of painting, W.E.B. Du Bois's idea of the veil, described in his book The Souls of Black Folks as a symbolic barrier that exists between black people and American society, which disables or prohibits a fair assessment of the Black character or Black life", he says.
Chambers employs a Magical Realism-inspired style to confront how the "veil" is pervasive in Black life and generates a space "of precarity, absurdity, and opportunity". All This Life in Us is "an example of how painting can represent the inability to fully experience the joy and freedom of Black life through a wash of abstraction, along with the mysterious and enchanting nature of the world of painting".
The artist will have his first solo exhibition at Lehmann Maupin in London during Frieze. Chambers, as well as making art, also buys it, and is amassing a sizeable collection. We sat down to ask him what he collects and why.
Dominic Chambers's All This Life in Us (2020)
© Dominic Chambers. Courtesy: Anna Zorina Gallery, New York City
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you ever bought?
DC: The first work I ever bought was a painting by Chloe West titled Purple Hands.
What was the most recent work you bought?
Coffee and Persian Cypress (2024) by Sara Rahmanian
Who are some new artists you have discovered that most excite you?
Well, I haven’t necessarily “discovered” these artists, but these are some emerging artists whose work grabbed my attention, and I think are worth checking out: Olivia Jia, Jade Thacker, Adam Amram and Alexandria Couch are making work that I’m excited about.
Coffee and Persian Cypress (2024) by Sara Rahmanian
Courtesy of Dominic Chambers
Do you have a favorite work of art in your collection?
Not necessarily. I don’t have a strong sense of magnetism towards any one piece. I think of collecting as a dialogue between myself and other artists, So I tend to be most excited about the curation of works and their dialogue in my home. From that point of view, I enjoy specific conversations between a couple of works in my collection, such as the dialogue between my Undreamed glass balloon sculpture by Shikeith, and Dark and Handsome painting by Alteronce Gumby.
What do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
Nothing. Regret, when collecting art, primarily stems from missing out on the opportunity for a monetary gain or being priced out of an artist's market. I mean, there are works I am disappointed in not being able to acquire, but that’s more so because of my envy of not being able to live and communicate with the works every day.
Otherwise, any work I miss out on, I hope to encounter again somewhere in the art world, hopefully at a museum where everyone can enjoy the work.
If you could have any work from any museum in the world?
There are so many! To name a couple I would have to go with Vermeer’s Girl with a Pear Necklace (1662-64) at the Gemäldegalerie, Georges Seurat's A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1886) at The Art Institute of Chicago, Joan Mitchell’s Wood, Wind, No Tuba (1980) at MoMA, and of course, Kerry James Marshall's Black Painting (2006) at the Glenstone Museum