Chloe Early | Queen of the Wild Frontier
Archival pigment print on Somerset Velvet 330gsm paper
70 cm x 50 cm
Edition of 100 signed and numbered by the artist
Transcending background noise and elevating figures out of the mundane and into more celestial spaces, colours radiate forth from Chloe Early's opulent oil paintings, suspending her subjects between rise and fall in painterly examinations of gravity and weightlessness. Her mini-narratives combine the splendour of Renaissance and Romantic painting with the rawness of contemporary life, a splendid example of the iron fist in a velvet glove strategy, examining the sensitive and personal aspects of conflict, ambition and entropy in an opulent, cinematic style.
Early's Queen of the Wild Frontier was inspired partly by Gian Lorenzo Bernini's infamous mid-1700s sculpture, The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, known for its compelling combination of both religious and sexual euphoria. A century before the sculpture's creation, Theresa, a nun, wrote vividly of her visitation by an angel: "The pain was so great, that it made me moan: and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it." The sculpture itself, still on display at the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, raised eyebrows for its compelling combination of both religious and sexual euphoria. And it is the state of ecstasy, both spiritual and otherwise, that Chloe examines in Queen of the Wild Frontier.
Echoing the radiant, otherworldly splendor of Renaissance religious art, Queen of the Wild Frontier employs contemporary figures and motifs to potent effect. The starkness at the core of our society is represented by the subject in thrall to helium balloons in primary colours – symbols of excess, celebration, and, ultimately, transience – frivolous, yet temporary. Painting the piece, Early was compelled by "the role of wonder and rapture in art", and equally a lack of it in contemporary society. "In Renaissance times wonder and rapture were expressed through the worship of God and depicting religious imagery", she says. "What do we worship these days?"