A blank canvas is something which doesn’t exist in the world of Chad Wys. An American mixed media artist (and I mean mixed media in every sense of the word), Wys creates his artwork using anything from old paintings to china plates, making his mark on the work of others. Vivid, solid colours stand proud against their backgrounds, giving forgotten pieces of artwork a new lease of life. Wys transforms his chosen canvases into something completely different, yet the original artworks are still recognisable. I’ve recently been introduced to the term ‘palimpsest’ in one of my lectures, a term used to describe something which features traces of its previous use or purpose; a concept which can most certainly be applied to Wys’ work.
If you think there is something rather simplistic about swiping colour across a painting or bust, then perhaps consider the ‘value’ of Wys’ canvases. When a mistake is made on a traditional blank canvas, it can be easily rectified by replacing the canvas and restarting the painting. But Wys will only ever have one original artwork to work with, there is no going back. In a way Wys’ art is a collaborative effort; a one sided conversation with artists from the past. I wonder what they would make of the palimpsests that Wys has created?
All photos from: http://chadwys.com/index.html