Tennis Elbow
Tuesday – Friday  10 am – 6 pm  Saturday  11 am – 5 pm

Chloe Wise

November 12 – December 3 2022

Like many deceptively simple things, the smile—that crowing glory of human facial expressions—turns out to be quite complicated. This has been especially curious and true in the history of painting. From da Vinci to de Kooning, the smile has made few and unpredictable appearances, expressing everything from aloofness to decadence to aggression. Even when pop art and postmodernism came along, the cheery billboard smiles they borrowed contained an implicit distance—a smile, in quotes.

The young New York artist Chloe Wise knows all this tricky terrain well, having studied art history before turning to studio art, (as well as having a smile bright and scintillant enough for a James Rosenquist canvas). However, Wise is quick to caution that her smile is tricky too, showing up at inopportune moments with a slightly manic intensity (which is only amplified by her remarkable talent for talking faster than Eminem).

To truly probe the paradox-packed smilescape of Chloe Wise, it’s better to get lost in her seemingly friendly oil portraits of people smiling big toothy grins. They recall a more sincere day of portraiture, before cosmetic dentistry and other enhancements had revamped the whole shebang. So along with the warmth and gladness her smiles elicit as they pull the viewer in, there’s something else that puts the viewer off, little grotesque hints of Jenny Savile or R. Crumb.

Wise calls it “perverted politesse.” The very definition of a modern painter-plus, Wise has also made a wide-ranging body of clever sculptural work that often features more of her blatantly Duchampian side. But her passion for painting is sui generis. It’s in this dimension that she is constantly experimenting and exploring a kind of life’s mission to meld the traditional painting techniques (which she has been working with since she was a relentlessly creative child in Montreal), with the more cerebral, less manual gestures of conceptual art. Reconciling, rethinking, or rebooting the past and the present — what else is there?

The fact that her paintings are toying not just with “who” and “how” but “when” explains some of the work’s ambiguities. But ultimately, the paintings are the work of Wise’s lightning-speed mind and her glacier-slow hands, and all the connections and disconnections that comes along with.

Coincidentally, that same discordance is at the heart of modern life, our minds ricocheting through infinity and our poor hands trying to hang on. Finally, there is a painter eager to reflect it.

– David Colman

Chloe Wise was born in Montréal, Canada in 1990. She received a BFA from Concordia University in Québec, Canada.

Wise's recent solo and group exhibitions include "In Loveliness of Perfect Deeds" at Blouin Division in Montréal, Canada (2022); "Spite Unseen" at Galerie Sébastien Bertrand in Geneva, Switzerland (2022); "Thank You For The Nice Fire" at Almine Rech in New York, New York (2021); "Second Nature" at Almine Rech Online in New York, New York (2020); "And Everything Was True" at HEART Herning Museum of Contemporary Art in Herning, Denmark (2019); Tennis Elbow at The Journal Gallery in New York, New York (2019); “Not That We Don’t” at Almine Rech in London, United Kingdom (2019); “Chère” at Arsenal Contemporary in New York, New York (2018); and “Of False Beaches and Butter Money” at Almine Rech in Paris, France. (2017).
Chloe Wise lives and works in New York, New York.