Lenore Chinn is an artist who has gained fame by her talent alone, never willing to sway from her Chinese roots or ignore her identity as a lesbian. Her paintings are stunning and could be classified in the realm of photo-realism, a style that continues to fascinate my mind. Chinn has been featured in art publications before, including my go-to-book, Lesbian Art in America: A Contemporary History by Harmony Hammond, and now has a book solely dedicated to her paintings. Cultural Confluences: The Art of Lenore Chinn is a survey of the portraits and commemorative paintings that have highlighted the artist’s career. The book includes several informative essays by Moira Roth, Tirza True Latimar, and Valerie Soe.
Chinn has also gained prestige in San Francisco for her activism for LGBT and Asian American rights. Many of her portraits embody her interests, including same-sex couples in everyday scenes. Her other projects include incredible depictions of Asian inspired scenes. Upon research, most of her paintings are done with acrylic, and as a lover of acrylic paint, I commend the artist for choosing to paint with the fast drying substance, as opposed to the slow manner of oils.
Chinn began painting her acrylic portraits, notably portraying lesbians, in the 1970’s and has been gaining notoriety ever since. She is an artist who is able to capture the small details of life and infuse a light behind them. Her technique allows her to not only have the viewer notice the main theme but keep the eye moving with her intensely detailed features. The way in which she is able to convey simple objects, such as a rug, reminds me of the great Dutch masters from the 17th century. Like the artists of the past, she not only is representing genre scenes, but ones that are packed full of symbolism. It is up to the viewer to decode the piece, which makes the process even more enjoyable.
The artist, who has been exhibiting her work since 1994 and has won several prestigious awards, will now be a part of the permanence of print.
Cultural Confluences: The Art of Lenore Chinn
Artworks by Lenore Chinn
Essays by Moira Roth, Tirza True Latimer and Valerie Soe
Publisher: Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center, 2011