In the realization of his artwork, it seems that James Chronister (Montana, 1978) wanted to play with the fundamental technical notions of photography, albeit with the ultimate intention of creating a painting. In fact, But you left it all for me (2023) is not a photographic print as it might seem at first glance, but an image made in oil on a large linen canvas.

But you left it all for me seems to be like a black and white photograph, or rather, a macro photograph, as the chosen subject is a pair of flowers amidst a meadow, surrounded by leaves and grass. The upper part of the painting is created to support this illusion: Chronister has skillfully simulated a gradual blurred effect, as if the ‘photo’ had been taken by closing the camera lens aperture.
Continuing in his photographic play, the artist chooses linen – with its thick and textured weave – as the material for the canvas. The effect on the background thus becomes rough, ‘disturbed’, permeated by that typical granularity of a photograph taken with a too high ISO value.

Significant is the pursuit of perfection in the production process of this artwork, in which every single vein of every single leaf is depicted. A perfection that, however, is limited only to the method of reproduction, and not to the final visual rendering: in fact, the subject is a common and chaotic meadow, the composition is not particularly sophisticated, the leaves and blades of grass overlap each other disorderly, and the two protagonist flowers are not centered in the frame.
If this work were indeed a photograph, it could be placed in the art movement of Straight photography, which in the first half of the last century opposed the pictorialist visual perfection, preferring instead a direct, pure, and natural reproduction of rather common subjects.
The balance sought and created by Chronister between perfection, chaos, realism, and abstraction becomes interesting in an illusory play of supports to be unveiled and admired.


James Chronister
But you left it all for me, 2023
Oil on linen, 152,4 x 106,7 cm (60 x 42 in)
© James Chronister; Photo by Paul Salveson; Courtesy the artist and Nino Mier Gallery