Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Artist as Subject, a special group exhibition organized to mark the gallery’s 20th anniversary. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 15.
Dolby Chadwick Gallery was founded in 1997 by Lisa Dolby Chadwick in order to support artists in the development of their creative processes and visions, and to further advance the Bay Area’s culture of creativity and free expression. The gallery currently represents a roster of emerging and mid-career artists from around the world who work in traditional and hybrid media. Though they embrace a diversity of subjects and styles, they are united by a dedication to craft and quality, and by a deep-seated sense of curiosity.
This exhibition honors this talented group by locating the artist at its center as the subject. To accomplish this, the gallery invited thirty-two artists to create self-portraits—though not necessarily in the traditional sense. It has been said that every great artwork is in fact a self-portrait, emerging from deep within to offer insights, even if fleeting and ambiguous, into one’s life, feelings, or thoughts.
As a genre, the self-portrait is expansive and porous, having been interpreted in diverse, even conflicting ways throughout history. In The Desperate Man (Self-Portrait) (1843–45), Gustave Courbet painted a wild-eyed youth looking directly ahead, his gaze locking with that of the viewer. Robert Rauschenberg’s 1967 self-portrait Booster, a lithograph and screenprint on paper, overlays an x-ray of his skeleton with a celestial map, assorted markings, and images of various tools, objects, and figures. And Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998) uses mixed media installation to offer a raw, unapologetic look at a particularly tumultuous time in the artist’s life.
The artists participating in this exhibition were asked how the idea of the self-portrait resonated with their particular practices, and how they might represent themselves or a given aspect of their physical or emotional selves. In her work Personages, French Kiss (2017), sculptor Ann Weber responds through a relational lens: “The Personages series references personal relationships, how we fit together, our interconnectedness to everything in the world as well as each other.” Painter Ada Sadler, on the other hand, homes in on themes of reflexivity. Recounting how she choose the photograph that forms the basis of her self-portrait, she writes: “I went through many photos I have taken over the years and found one I had earlier rejected—one in which I appear in the background as a faint reflection in a glass wall, taking the photo. I like the idea that my self-portrait shows what I do in the process of making a painting, rather than a traditional self-portrait.”