b. 1976 Summerside, P.E.I., Canada
Jeff Chester completed a B.F.A. and a B.Sc. from the University of Guelph in 2001. After completing a B.Ed. the following year at Nipissing University, he taught high school art for a year in England. Chester then went on to spend the next ten years developing his technical painting skills while simultaneously working as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force, an experience that brought him a very unique visual point of view. Since 2014, he is pursuing his career as a full-time painter.
Chester creates figurative work with a formal focus on colour and design. Works from his current series, The Curious Object, pose questions concerning identity and contemporary portraiture. The compositions feature variations of a lone figure within a square format that one might typically see in a contemporary social media selfie.
“I have tried to walk a line between illustration and photo-realist painting. Through this mixing of styles, I am alluding to the role of storytelling in the creation of our identities and lived realities. I also refer to Italian Renaissance portraiture by using the time-honored motif of a woman in a landscape. This is to create a contrast between the function of these earlier paintings and the goals of contemporary portraiture.
In the not too distant future, thanks to automation, artificial intelligence and technological integration with our bodies, we will find that our identities will be challenged in profound ways. Who we think we are will become central to making meaning of our place in the world.
The figures appearing in the work are based off of images of my wife. The repetition of the same face allows her to disappear into anonymity and become a stand in for the idea of a nonspecific person. At the same time, it allows me a chance to state my own view that love and human connection is of paramount importance. Who we are is entangled fundamentally with our relationships to others.”