The first time I heard the classic “Waters of March” it was one of those songs I knew was missing in my life. The poetry of the spring and the waters of March falling on the earth, filling the streams and bringing life after a long winter.
Bossa Nova is the new wave, the new beat, warm, simple and sophisticated. It is sensual, quiet and sometimes sad and longing. It was only fitting to hear that familiar Bossa Nova when visiting Gallerie Ukwensi to chat with Ukwensi Chappell.
AltDaily: When did you decide to open a gallery in Ghent?
Chappell: I decided to open “a” gallery years ago… however the decision to have my gallery in Ghent was last year.
AltDaily: What do you want visitors to experience at your gallery?
Chappell: The purpose of Gallerie Ukwensi at Ghent is to attract people from all walks of life to come and experience a lounge-like gallery with great music playing in the background. They can enjoy a complimentary glass of vino (if they’re old enough) and view my work as well as amazing works of local and national artists. Whether they purchase artwork or not, my hope is for all to leave with smiles on their faces with the promise that they will return with more people to enjoy the experience.
AltDaily: How do you choose the artists you represent?
Chappell: If it “wows” me and my partners, fits my vision, and has a potential to sell, then they are in. The agreement is that I will host their art at least 6 months to a year. I’m always happy to meet artists and see their work, but I can’t promise them anything.
AltDaily: Who are some of the artists you represent and what kind of work do they create?
Chappell: Currently, I’m displaying my light-capturing works on canvas, as well as local clay sculptor Gia Labidi (I very much love her androgynous style of creativity); Scott Fredrick, another local artist who tells us compelling stories of his life experiences through his multimedia abstract paintings; Bene Cambra, a very gifted artist who celebrates the motorcycle culture and lifestyle by creating functional motorcycle sculptures in furniture form; Ralph Thomas, a ‘self taught’ folk art painter; Brandon Kralik, a student of famed Norwegian artist Odd Nerdrum, who paints classically with a dark aged modern edge style… just to name a few.
AltDaily: What makes an artist want to leave familiar places to follow their vision?
Chappell: One word… passion… no need to go any further than that.
AltDaily: The words “Gnothi Seauton” are part of your gallery logo. How do those words relate to the gallery or you as an artist?
Chappell: Gnothi Seauton is ancient Greek meaning “know thyself.” To know thyself is to love and have confidence in oneself while spreading the same love to others. This applies to everyone and all artists I represent.
AltDaily: Everybody has artists that inspire them or change the way they think. Who are the artists that you admire?
Chappell: My biggest influence is the art that nature creates but as far as other artists, Gustav Klimt, Gaudi, Dali, Klee, de Kooning, Pollock, Khalo… the list goes on and on.
AltDaily: How would you describe your work?
Chappell: I call them vessels to your imagination… an invitation to see whatever you see. I title my works but it doesn’t matter because they are all about you and what you think… be it bad or good.
AltDaily: Can you explain the process of making your art?
Chappell: No… just kidding. It’s a pouring technique I do. I suspend powdered and metallic pigments within clear enamel while adding crushed and smooth glass beads for texture. How I pour or control the paint is my secret.
AltDaily: I look at art as one scene or part of a bigger story. The artwork usually represents either the beginning, middle or end of the story. Can your artwork be defined this way?
Chappell: My art is here, now, tomorrow, and always…. (smile).
AltDaily: How do you want people to experience your artwork?
Chappell: By coming into the gallery, loving it, buying it, seeing it on their wall, loving it more, and buying more. My hope is that it will add new and exciting energy to your home (smile). Sometimes it may take more than one visit but that’s okay… I love spending time with people.
AltDaily: What music do you listen to when you make art?
Chappell: BOSSA NOVA… ALWAYS!
Gallerie Ukwesi will be having a reception on Friday, September 7 at 6:30 PM – 11 PM at 424 W. 21st St. Suite 101, Norfolk, Virginia 23517.