Elephant Room Gallery will be exhibiting new works by Chicago-based, Laotian American artist Chantala Kommanivanh with an exhibition entitled, Frontal. The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, October 8th from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and runs through November 26th.
Chantala Kommanivanh’s new work Frontal is a collection of paintings depicting minority subjects in front of decaying and emerging backgrounds. The work investigates our encounters with cultural identity; innocence, vulnerability, racism, stereotypes, gang life and hip-hop, through portraiture. Kommanivanh extracts the figure from its urban landscape and exaggerates its “realism” in mixed media, layered with drawn and painted graffiti marks. Frontal has glimpses of photographic clarity combined with colorful and, at times, aggressive abstractions. The paint drips signify the merging and separation of emotional conflicts and the struggle between the figure, its environment, and the viewer.
Chantala Kommanivanh is an award-winning Lao American Artist, Educator, and Musician.
He brings years of experience in writing, producing, and performing on stage as co-founding member of the independent hip-hop duo Maintenance Crew. Under the moniker Chantalism, Kommanivanh wrote and produced along with long-time collaborator Diego “Ubiquity” Prieto, releasing four full-length albums (ex. Eternal Sunshine of the simple mind in 2005, Simple is the way its spoken 2007, Plain and Simple 2010, and The Collapse of a Mcdonldlize Society in 2012).
The rap music he’s produced with Maintenance Crew and the visual components of Kommanivanh’s work have areas of overlap in terms of their meaning and content. He is interested in creating new memories by “sampling” from past events. Through painting, the work is a reinterpretation of memories documenting his personal history. Raised with traditional Lao customs at home and active in hip-hop culture outside his home, Kommanivanh’s work investigates cultural hybridity and tensions of identity, as he and his family were refugees from the unfortunate outcomes of the 1964-1975 Secret War in Laos. His collection of paintings derives from personal and found photographs representing pivotal times in his life. His visual works has been displayed in five major solo exhibitions in the Chicago and Midwestern area art galleries and has been included in numerous group and invitational exhibitions across the U.S.
He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation award in 2009 and is a two-time awardee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Advance Opportunity Program Fellowship award in 2011 and 2012. Congress Lady Tammy Duckworth has also recognized him for his service of excellence to Illinois’s 8th district arts community in 2013.
Kommanivanh earned his Bachelor degree at Northeastern Illinois University in 2008 and a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts in 2012. Today he has found his way back to his hometown of Chicago and teaches at his alma mater since 2012, where he is an arts Professor.
Frontal will be on exhibition at Elephant Room Gallery’s South Loop location at 704 S Wabash Ave. Viewing hours for the exhibition can be found on the gallery’s website: www.elephantroomgallery.com