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Chet Naylor

The theme of my work is existential. I’m interested in the natural world and the human place within it.  We live in a world increasingly mediated where almost everything is digitized, crowdsourced, mass produced and progressively more algorithm driven and  AI generated.  This is the mainstream, the trending, the viral, but more than ever I am interested in the raw, the organic, the singular.

I paint because it is direct, immediate and physical.  Fluctuating between representation and abstraction, nature’s continual metamorphosis of energy, matter and space is my subject matter.  These primary elements I interpret through the interplay of color, line, form and positive and negative space. Color I see as energy vibrating in space, line as trajectory, motion and as a thread or web of interconnection. Form is energy embodying a physical state. Tonal qualities emanate from pulsing color, engulf, recede or dissolve into subtle transitional grays into the light filled or darkness of space.  The build up of these tonal layers encompassing the linear threads, scars, shapes and hues correspond to change and time.

Painting lends itself to an ambiguity that is vital to me, a world of the seen and the unseen and the mysterious relation between the two. The work, done free hand, has a strong improvisational element. I believe in an art that comes as much from the heart and hand as from the mind. Each work created in this manner is an act of defiance, an act of resistance and of hope.  It is an endeavor to protect what is human in an increasingly mechanistic world.

It’s not science fiction anymore. The arts are on a very real frontline of the battle for the survival of humans as a biological species. Human civilizations are built on culture.  We are shaped from birth by the stories in our literature, by our art and our music.  Now A.I. can formulate, if we allow it, more and more of the stories, mythologies, images and ideologies.  As historian Yuval Harari asks “What would it mean to grow up, to be a human inside an alien culture which increasingly shapes me and everybody else around me.” On the medical front companies like Neurolink are at work on implanting AI into humans to - as their mission statement reads - “unlock tomorrow’s ‘human’ potential”.  Art can serve as a weapon against this ultimate dehumanization.  An underlying intention through all my creative endeavors is for the preservation of nature and the human being as a creature of the natural world - inviolable. 


Chet Naylor is an independent American artist and writer based in Richmond, Virginia. He grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Albemarle County, Virginia and received his degree in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. Chet Naylor’s work has been exhibited across the United States and in solo exhibitions in Germany, Italy, and France. His works are in public and private collections in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.