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New Work from Tom Chambers

photo-eye Gallery New Work from Tom Chambers Delaney Hoffman
photo-eye Gallery presents new works from represented artist Tom Chambers.

Tom Chambers, Tangled Up in Blue, 2021, Archival pigment print, 14x14," Edition of 20, $750

Photography is no stranger to poetic thought, as it applies to both the abstract and the narrative. Poetry has given us the epic as well as the haiku, and an image can hold its meaning in much of the same way; if I were to make equivocations (which seem unfair but are helpful) I would liken the haiku to the formalism of Minor White or Robert Adams, of the small, beautiful moments meticulously recorded. The epic, however, belongs to the realm of photomontage, of construction and manipulation; this is the realm of Tom Chambers and his whimsical photographs that are highly influenced by the world of painting.

Chambers’ images are a practice in allegorical assemblage. Seeing these new images, specifically, I was taken by the symbol of the blue rope that appears in both the featured image, Tangled Up in Blue and in Azure Impasse, seen below:

Tom Chambers, Azure Impasse, 2021, Archival pigment print

In both images, a blue rope appears from a source outside of the frame. The primary characters in each image appear to be stuck, they are bound, presumably by forces outside of themselves; I am left to wonder whether the woman in Tangled Up in Blue has allowed herself to be captured, or if the pale yellow ram in Azure Impasse is taking advantage of a foe who has lost the capability to flee. Despite my pessimistic initial readings of each image, the strength of Chambers’ cross-cultural symbolic usage still leaves me plenty of room to reassemble those meanings.

What does it mean that the rope is blue? And what does it mean that we don’t know where it goes?

Tom Chambers’ work is rooted in magical realism and a spirit of surreal play, a style that has served the artist well throughout his career. The inherent strangeness in this work can’t help but to remind me of a beautiful quote from poet and art critic Bill Berkson, though written in regards to poetry, can apply to the poetic or allegorical image as well.

At first, the strangeness was framed as a language — spoken or written [or seen] — that is beautiful, even though I don’t really know what it’s about; I don’t know what it means, or what it’s for. Then it became an attractive proposition, that it is not for anything: it’s just there to be assembled and reassembled, and out of that assembling you feel a connection with the words [or the image], for the way [the disparate elements] are put together, that seems to ring bells, and that one can give back out as something everyone knows as both strange and real. 

— Bill Berkson

Tom Chambers work rings bells, and if you’d like to hear more of them, view more below and check out the full portfolio on our website, here

Tom Chambers, Wildfire, 2021, Archival pigment print, 14x14," Edition of 20, $750

Tom Chambers, Sweet Nectar, 2021, Archival pigment print, 14x14," Edition of 20, $750

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photo-eye Gallery is proud to represent Tom Chambers.

For more information, and to purchase prints by Tom Chambers please contact Gallery Director Anne Kelly or Gallery Assistant Delaney Hoffman, or you may also call us at 505-988-5152 x202