Exhibit review "Lost in the Woods," pastel paintings by Sam Chapman, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays, through Oct Oct...

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Whidbey Island artist Sam Chapman saw a dog chase a deer into Puget Sound and keep swimming after it until both the hunter and hunted disappeared into the waves. That vivid metaphor was the impetus he needed to get back to work.

In his recent series “Lost in the Woods” at Patricia Cameron Gallery, Chapman tells the old story of instinct trumping intelligence.

The imagery grew from the self-destructive bit of animal behavior he witnessed, but reflects the futility of human aggression, too.

The chase quickly evolves from dog and deer to include helicopters and bombers. Chapman’s paintings are actually about the daily news. In the end, the machines seem to dominate — but over what?

Using the format of icon paintings or those harrowing Medieval depictions of saints dripping with blood and arrows, Chapman makes flat arrangements of figures and forms in pastel against a painted gold background. The compositions have a frantic feel, and scenes are about desperation and entrapment. The result is both visually attractive and emotionally disturbing. I began to feel my heart pumping a little too hard and fast as I looked around the exhibition.

Exhibit review


“Lost in the Woods,” pastel paintings by Sam Chapman, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays, through Oct. 14 at Patricia Cameron Fine Art, 234 Dexter Ave. N., Seattle (206-343-9647 or www.patriciacamerongallery.com).

The work isn’t as effectively framed as it could be, but that’s a minor stumbling block. This is Chapman’s first solo show in Seattle, and it looks promising.

Sheila Farr: sfarr@seattletimes.com