Photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon is known for her intimate photographic portraits which are often adorned with a golden splendor reminiscent of a painting by Gustav Klimt. However, for his last series If I’m no longer there I wanted you to know, the artist was in fact largely inspired by Byzantine art and religious iconography. “Historically, gold was only for important people,” Chatmon told My Modern Met, and this portrait series centers on the people most important to her.
“I don’t wish to wait for the perfect moment, the perfect place or the perfect day to express my love for family and friends,” Chatmon expresses in his artist statement for these golden portraits. And she tells My Modern Met a little more about the experiences that inspired this series: “I worked on this corpus during lockdown as we all adjusted to the pandemic and more social unrest. So many thoughts have spread, especially the mortality and the importance of “giving people their flowers” while you and they are still here. I thought of my children, my community and the world at large. On the one hand, I feel blessed to experience this life and, at the same time, I feel urgent concern due to the daily events in the world around us.
Chatmon channels these kinds of deep thoughts and feelings into his art and uses them to fuel his inspiration. After a portrait shoot, where the model is usually a relative, she polishes and prints each digitally enhanced photo, which serves as the first layer of a piece. The artist then embellishes the portraits with layered layers of acrylic paint and 24k gold leaf. Several works in this series are also adorned with semi-precious stones, glass and other mixed media. The majestic, elongated silhouettes sparkle and sparkle in their golden adornments, posed in striking postures evocative of the tenderness and warmth shared in their bonds of love and friendship.
“For those who come across my work, I want them to stop and pay attention,” Chatmon says. “Like works created in Byzantine times, I would like them to have a spiritual experience. I would like them to think, to look inside, and for something inside of them to awaken or expand. I hope they will experience feelings of grace, celebration and magnificence and that the imagery will stay with them forever.
To see more of Chatmon’s magnificent work, visit the artist’s website or follow her on Instagram. In the meantime, scroll down to see more amazing portraits from his latest series, If I’m no longer there, I wanted you to know.
Photography-based artist Tawny Chatmon drew much of his inspiration for his latest series of golden portraits from Byzantine art.
Gold being traditionally reserved for important figures, she wanted to use the precious metal to highlight those who are most important to her.
The photographic portraits are embellished with layers of acrylic paint, 24k gold leaf and even semi-precious stones in a style reminiscent of Gustav Klimt.
Chatmon fauve: Website | Instagram | Twitter
My Modern Met has granted permission to use Tawny Chatmon’s photos.
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