Portraiture is the cornerstone of my creative journey. I started my art career with portraiture in 2005. It enabled me to grow and branch out as an artist over the years. It is my concrete as a young artist. The subject keeps me focused, motivated and confident. Portraiture has also given me the skills needed to pursue other fields of art with technical confidence. 

Trained as a realist painter I soon found myself at a dead-end. My creative dialogue felt muted as there was no sense of interpretation or transformation with my subject matter as they became mere copies. 

I discovered Chuck Close in my first year of studies. I fell in love with the marriage of Impressionism/pointillism with Super Realism. This relationship created a new dialogue with the viewer and the subject. Up close a sense of intimacy is established as web of patterns and forms emerge creating a new channel for communication. Which viewed from a distance a single or unified image is visible. 

In a world now molded by social and online media, everything has become digitized. In its primal core all internet information and imagery is nothing more than 1’s and 0’s (binary code), this transformation factors to the basis for my body of work. As a child I was fascinated with computers, especially the ability to ‘Hack’. To me this meant that a world could be manipulated and transformed with creativity… Hackers challenge and change the system to make them work differently to make them work differently, to make them better. A ‘Hacker’ then could actually be applied to any field… I describe myself as a ‘Portrait Hacker’. 

My process is to modernize the traditional portrait by mechanically etching it into text. The digitized rendition transforms and re-invents the subject. When constructing the portrait the conventional process of paint brush to canvas is eliminated. I make a stamp by using foam letter cut outs. I assemble a name or word which has a connection with my subject. I continuously stamp and layer the print, working almost ‘blind’ but mindful of structure and tonal values. The process might seem very mechanical, however the formation of the image is very organic as I cannot dictate exactly how the stamps form the portrait… The image finally emerges: transformed in a coded and industrialized web of paint. 

From an early age Claude Chandler was immersed in the art world, with both of his parents being talented local artists and prominent figures in the art scene. He grew up in galleries and studios, and was constantly surrounded by artists. At gallery openings he would swoop through the crowd in his batman suit.

At school Claude’s art was controversial and his mother was occasionally called in due to teachers’ concerns about this. Although at school this was a limitation, it served him well later in his career: he was awarded 2nd place in the 2011 KZNSA’s Members’ Exhibition for his scatological interpretation of the theme, The Bold and the Beautiful.

His passion for portraiture was cemented when, in 2005, he began a project of painting his teachers at Glenwood High School. This set off his career as he started receiving portrait commissions, as well as developing his own personal identity as an artist and increasing his confidence in his artistic abilities. Claude’s creative journey is rooted in the use of portraiture. His journey continued into his tertiary studies when he decided to study Fine Art at the Durban University of Technology.He participated in numerous exhibitions whilst still at university. He participated in the 2008 Start The Nivea Art Awards, and in the 2010 Sasol New Signatures national Art Competition held at the Pretoria Art Museum . He was a finalist in both these competitions. He was one 25 prominent Durban artists who were selected to take part in the Interpret Durban exhibition. Claude’s interest in teaching art precipitated in his giving private classes in early 2011, as well as teaching for a term as a student educator at Durban Girls’ High School. Now that Claude has graduated, Durban is no longer a muse for him and he has migrated to Cape Town to pursue his creative career.

Selected Exhibitions:

‘That Art Fair’ Art South Africa. Cape Town.

‘2014 Turbine Art Fair’ Turbine Hall, Joburg. World Art Representative.

‘5th Toilet Cubical Exhibition’ Studio 41. Cape Town – Claude Chandler, Roscoe Masters, Kirstie Samson
Finalist in the SPI National Portrait Awards

‘Mash-Up’ Alex Hamilton Gallery, Woodstock, Cape Town – Group Show
‘RED’ KZNSA Gallery, Members Exhibition, Durban – Group Show 

‘Re-use’  Durban University of Technology Art Gallery – Group Show
‘DUT Fine Art and Jewelry 3rd Year and BTech final exhibition’ DUT City Campus – Group Show
‘Grand Opening’  The Collective, KZN Durban – Group Show
‘DAG Inspired’  ArtSpace Durban, KZN top 25 recognized painters – Group exhibition
‘Bold and the Beautiful’, KZNSA Gallery, Members Exhibition/competition – 2nd Prize – R5000

‘Sasol New Signatures Art Competition 2010’, Pretoria Art Museum, National Competition
‘Something Blue, Something Borrowed and Found’, ArtSpace Durban, Group Show

‘Affordable Art Fair’, ArtSpace Durban,

‘Start, The Nivea Art Awards 2008’, KZNSA Gallery, Durban, Provincial Competition

Artist: Claude Chandler
Title: ‘Produsage’
Medium: Acrylic on canvas

Artist: Claude Chandler
Title: ‘Sour Face’
Medium: Acrylic on canvas