Oaks of Righteousness
For Alex Chaves’s third solo show at Martos Gallery, titled “Oaks of Righteousness,” the Los Angeles-based artist unveils paintings that depict primarily female subjects through the lens of various character tropes—from warriors to seductresses to “sleeping beauties” and beyond. All the while, motifs classically associated with femininity, especially flowers, run rampant, comprising sweeping patterns and strategically-placed symbols alike.
Chaves’s compositions are flush with references to the canon of early modernist painting as framed within the European context—in one instance, even explicitly reimagining André Derain’s Fauvist masterpiece La Chasse (1938-1944) from a contemporary point of view, as captured in the artist’s own La Chasse (2019).
As Chaves engages with as well as subverts gender-oriented norms stemming from this pivotal art historical period, the resulting hyper-vivid paintings deliver fresh insight while simultaneously raising unexamined questions as to the scope, nature, and legacy of female representation as shaped by the modernist tradition.
Alex Chaves, Isabelle, 2019. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 inches.