Available on Amazon.com
Jaq Chartier Testing
download PDF (816K)
48 page hard cover book with introductory essay by Robin Held, Chief Curator, Frye Art Museum, Seattle. Published by Marquand Books, Seattle, (2004).
also available at Jaq's galleries:
Morgan Lehman, New York
Haines Gallery, San Francisco
Platform, Seattle
Elizabeth Leach, Portland
WM Baczek, Northampton
"Testing" by Jaq Chartier
download PDF (650K)
16
page soft cover catalog for solo exhibition at the Institute for the Humanities, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, (2006).

(Not many copies available, but you can ask at one of Jaq's galleries.)
Read Reviews

2009 ——————————————————————
"Jaq Chartier and the memento mori of a color field" 5/1/09
Another Bouncing Ball, by Regina Hackett

2008 ——————————————————————
"Jaq Chartier" 8/08
art ltd., by Richard Spear

2006 ——————————————————————
"Jaq Chartier breaks down decay to its most beautiful elemental forms" 9/8/06
Seattle P.I., by Regina Hackett

"Ink that makes you think" 10/4/06
Seattle Weekly, by Adriana Grant

"Profanity, Testing, Explosion" 9/14/06
The Stranger, by Jen Graves

"Jaq Chartier at Platform Gallery" 9/23/06
artdish.com, by Gary Faigin

"Serial in Seattle" 3/06
visualcodec.com, by Regina Hackett

"Jaq Chartier @ Platform Gallery" 9/19/06
Matthew Langley/weblog, by Matthew Langley

2005 ——————————————————————
"Visual Arts Pick: Five Painters"
Seattle Weekly, by Andrew Engelson

2004 ——————————————————————
"Art grapples with science and politics"
San Francisco Chronicle, by Kenneth Baker
"Dateline
Brooklyn"
Artnet.com, by Stephen Maine
"The October Art Crawl"
FREEwilliamsburg.com, by Keane A. Pepper (Powhida)
"Jaq Chartier
: Sun Tests at Schroeder Romero"
MinusSpace.com, by Nick Stillman

2003 ——————————————————————
"Jaq Chartier: Testing"
Contemporary, by Jill Conner
"The April Art Crawl"
FREEwilliamsburg.com, by Keane A. Pepper (Powhida)

2002 ——————————————————————
"Jaq Chartier and Amy Ellingson at Frumkin/Duval Gallery"
Artweek, by Charlene Roth
"Dot matrix: Jaq Chartier smears the line between art and science with her DNA-inspired blobs"
Seattle Weekly, by Andrew Engelson

(scroll down for older reviews near the bottom)
Contemporary, Issue 53/53, 2003
New York/Schroeder Romero Gallery
Jaq Chartier: Testing
by Jill Conner

With our minds so conditioned to perceive the external world in technological terms, one could easily mistake Jaq Chartier's new collection of paintings as simple mimicry of scientific imagery. However, her work should not be understood as anything beyond what it materially represents: empirical tests that reflect various chemical reactions between stains of spray-paint and a coat of clear acrylic that evenly coats the wood-panel surfaces.

Saturation Chart 9/02 is comprised of lines of dots grouped in vertical pairs, with particular amounts of coloured paint blurring at different intensities as they dry into the translucent layer of acrylic. Similar to work by Helen Frankenthaler, Chartier explores the limits of lucid pigmentation, yet she is unwilling to surrender entirely to random abstraction as Frankenthaler did. Rather, Chartier seeks to confine colour within small circular spaces and reveal how it either gradates or saturates into different hues while drying. In Tip Test (1/03) the artist challenges the durability of colours with extrinsic physical movement. Giving form to tone, each dot within Chartier's work takes on it's own life, as randomness resides within effect.

4 Reactions is rather similar to the first piece, except in this instance the wood panel is divided into four grid-like sections that contain different degrees of artistic experimentation. Red and Blue Deposits appears more vibrant, yet relaxed, as the inks gradually seep downward, conveying a very subdued essence. This programmatic process leads repeatedly to an unpredictability that shows how far we have moved away from investing a high level of significance within the material aspect of a work of art.

Does this collection of new, abstract art prove that scientific subjects like microbiology have found representation within the realm of visual art? Although it is tempting to contextualize Chartier's work alongside scientific discovery, it should not be perceived in such literal terms. Chartier's interest in scientific depictions does not signify her own repetition of it, but rather a curiosity to move painting beyond it. Her work brings art back to one of its origins, as the articulation of biological-looking forms appeals to the organic nature of feeling.



Artweek, March, 2002
"Jaq Chartier and Amy Ellingson at Frumkin/Duval Gallery"
by Charlene Roth, contributing editor to Artweek

"It has been argued, already three generations ago, that the modifications brought to the representation of physical reality by the Muslim world in the ninth century had a religious, even a theological, meaning. By withdrawing from a recreation of tangible or visible reality, the modifications, it was argued by the great French scholar Louis Massignon, expressed the impermanence of the visible, an alleged tenet of the muslim ethos." — Oleg Grabar, The Mediation of Ornament, 1992

Issues of representation have always been of interest to visual artists but acquired particular relevance in western culture after the Abstract Expressionists of the New York School sponsored a sweeping adjustment in thinking on the subject. They proposed that what is profound in the most far-reaching sense (and this has been given many names ranging from those of deities, to death, to that which is nameless) exists in the imagination of the artist/subject and not as copies of real world scenes like portraits, landscapes or still lifes. The Abstract Expressionist desire to present this view inspired a wholesale move within their group from representation to non-representation. These non-objective constructions (color-fields, drip paintings, etc.) took inspiration from the drift of artist intuition. The effort to illustrate the indescribable by eschewing representation makes some sense. If you cannot name it, or describe it, you probably will not see it in an image taken from daily life. This idea, though the impetus differs, has been present in the art produced by the Muslim world since the eighth century where the tenuousness, fragility and transience of the everyday have not been a point of transcendent focus. Contemplative attention is directed toward awareness of the ineffable, which, according to some Islamic religious dictates, is best expressed by non-representational repetition in the form of patterns and decorative motifs.

The work of Jaq Chartier, in the exhibition Testing at Frumkin/Duval Gallery, takes part in this discussion. She says, "I'm interested in creating work that is real and direct—not a picture about something, a piece that is the thing itself, a record of what happened right there on the wood panel." She describes herself as an artist deeply engaged by process with a layperson's interest in science. She explores the behavior of pigments, inks, dyes and chemical stains layered on and between acrylic gels, gessoes and spray paints. Migration is her current subject for study. The products of her art-making are intimate panels featuring soft, satiny, neutral grounds where colorful materials, often labeled informally in pencil, are arranged in regular groups of rows of a single repeated form, like dots. These bleed, spread, blur, shift and halo, softening the outline of the original form. The result is, artist intent aside, pretty patterns that become remarkable because of occasional eccentric details, but also because of the potential for the pigments to continue to drift, thus subtly changing the look of the panels with the passage of time. The Abstract Expressionists would say Chartier is attempting to show us "the now" or "the lived moment." A similar method aimed at showing the "unnamable" can be seen in the repetitive arrangements of forms such as circles on ancient and not so ancient Islamic tiles, made more interesting by the unevenness of the firing process and altered by distresses imposed over time.



Seattle Weekly, 3/28/02
"Dot matrix: Jaq Chartier smears the line between art and science with her DNA-inspired blobs"
By Andrew Engelson

IN A STUDIO NEAR the International District, artist Jaq Chartier is conducting another experiment. Clad in a paint-spattered T-shirt and jeans, she eyes her work: row after row of green, pink, and blue blobs. Over the past several days, these colorful ink spots have begun to appear from underneath layers of opaque white varnish, like spring flowers emerging from snow.

Some of the spots are covered with masking tape, while others have been exposed to the late-winter sunlight. Chartier inspects one series of blobs created with a pink dye--the kind used by biology students to stain microscope slides. She's penciled her observations in the margins. One dot in particular catches her attention: a blemish that's curdled and broken into a pattern resembling an amoeba. She smiles. "That one's doing something really cool."

A technician of sorts in her makeshift laboratory, Jaq Chartier has turned the mixing and observation of pigments, inks, and dyes into an art form. The Seattle-based painter has found in the biosciences both a method and a language for the exploration of color. Hanging on the walls of the studio are the results of her experiments: gorgeous abstract paintings composed of blurry dots. What these paintings most resemble are the results of gel electrophoresis--DNA tests used to identify crime suspects and map the human genome.

This affinity with genetics has earned Chartier a place as one of two local artists in an ambitious new exhibit opening next weekend at the Henry Art Gallery called "Gene(sis)." Through art installations, dance, panel discussions, and film, the Henry will examine ethical issues related to cloning, genetic engineering, gene mapping, and DNA ownership.

The two dozen artists showcased in "Gene(sis)" present a wild variety of approaches, from Christine Borland's HeLa installation--complete with microscopes and actual live cell cultures--to the bioscience-critical cartoons of Tom Tomorrow and Roz Chast. Chartier's art is more obliquely connected to the subject. "My work really isn't about DNA or science. It's just kind of bouncing off it," she says. Although Chartier intuitively incorporates the imagery of DNA science into her paintings, it's her method--a kind of hybrid of artistic and scientific endeavor--that makes her work most relevant to "Gene(sis)."

Chartier's paintings reduce the artistic process to its most elemental: What happens when a painter applies a material, in solution, to a surface and lets it dry? We're often reminded of how divergent science and art are; Chartier manages to bridge the gap between the two realms.

Another rigorous experimenter in materials, Susan Robb, is the other Seattle-based artist represented in "Gene(sis)." But Robb's photographs and installations make use of a more outrageous palette: spit, moss, glass cleaner, urine, Play-Doh, and melted chocolate rabbits, to name a few. Chartier, by contrast, is a painter first and foremost.

MUCH IN THE SAME way that Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered the antibiotic properties of penicillin in his lab sink, Chartier stumbled upon her métier in a seemingly banal place. While working as an instructor for an acrylics company, Chartier was always testing materials. She soon realized that the tests she'd created were more interesting than her paintings.

The paintings themselves have now become an active record of those tests: studies in how different pigments migrate and fade in reaction to other materials, sunlight, and the passage of time. Sometimes, the materials change in surprising and beautiful ways. Other times, they look bizarre or awkward. No matter: Chance and chaos are essential elements of Chartier's work. "I need the accidents to happen to keep me interested," she says. "If I know what's going to happen from start to finish, I get bored. For me, making the painting is finding the painting. I want to be surprised by it."

When she first learned about gel electrophoresis during the O.J. Simpson trial, Chartier began amassing a sizable scrapbook of biology images: pictures of mold, blood cells, and botched DNA tests. Chartier says she hasn't yet visited a working biotech lab--she's afraid that knowing too much will make her work too literal.

Instead, a friend who works for a biotech company regularly e-mails Chartier material. "She sends me all these JPEGS: things that, because they made a mistake with the gel, gave them a weird artifact. Now all the stuff they throw in the trash, they're starting to look at again. They're starting to see what they're doing as art."

Cynics might argue that this is exactly the audience Chartier is targeting: wealthy biotech companies that would love to put pretty paintings resembling DNA tests on their walls. This point isn't lost on the artist or the William Traver Gallery, which represents her. Recently, Chartier sold a painting to Immunex, and she hopes to sell more to a Canadian biotech researcher. "I think it's a great fit," she admits.

But watching her at work in the studio, it becomes clear Chartier isn't merely interested in becoming the region's next Chihuly, churning out profitable candy for the walls of corporate lobbies. There's a real integrity to her curiosity, a painstaking fascination with migration of inks that brings to mind Mark Rothko's investigations of color 50 years ago.

"I'm really obsessed with the bleeding edge on a dot," she says. "Putting a dot of oil paint down on a piece of paper and having that edge of oil soak out and leave this ring. There's something about that edge. It's one of those weird obsessive things that would be minutiae to anyone else."



Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 12/28/01
"Seductive changes — Jaq Chartier: Testing"
by Jerry Cullum

The verdict: Painting that successfully uses science in the service of beauty. Seattle artist Jaq Chartier makes thoroughly contemporary paintings. Repeated blurry patterns of stains, blobs and streaks appear on vertical stripes, looking a little like fictitious images of data streams or real ones out of biological research. But the effect is less one of science fiction than of sheer visual seduction, a concern with beauty that we're seeing more and more in contemporary painting. Chartier, whose work is at Momus Gallery, has a different conceptual agenda, however. It becomes clearer once we notice that in some works, the spots of color are labeled as Higgin's Sepia, and the background stripes into which the colors melt are also labeled with names, such as the memorable "America's Finest Gloss." Chartier is actually combining assorted pigments, inks and photo chemicals with acrylic gels and gessoes applied in layers on wooden board. The liquid quality of the inlaid colors comes from the manner in which they are applied, but the painting doesn't stop changing once the gesso dries. The migrating pigments and chemicals continue to change the nature of the image long after the artwork hangs on a buyer's wall. This is process with a difference, one defined by science as much as it is by the painter's hand, though it's Chartier's skill as a painter that determines where the migrating elements begin their process of change. It's also her knowledge of possible outcomes that leads her to produce the specific mixtures that she lays down. Paintings that change in unpredictable ways within predictable limits are a superb metaphor for the nature of exploratory research, and people who deal in this type of fundamental investigation might well find these works attractive symbols for their own endeavors. Yet Chartier is still more artist than scientist, and her mix of regular and irregular patterns contributes significantly to contemporary dialogues on finding a future for a very old way of making a work of art. Momus, which is soon moving to a larger gallery across the hall in the Tula art center, deserves the extra space if it continues to present shows as subtly groundbreaking as this one.



San Francisco Bay Guardian, 8/15/01
'Theory or Faith' — Through Sept. 8, Limn Gallery
by Lindsey Westbrook

Do you see the Virgin Mary in the cracks on the ceiling? Or Elvis's silhouette in the brown spots of a tortilla? The artists in "Theory or Faith" gaze at the natural world and think about how spirituality influences their perceptions; the art they create blurs the line between science and mysticism. Justine Cooper and Jaq Chartier both find artistic inspiration in the human body – specifically in ultra-close-up views of it. Cooper enlarges black-and-white electron micrographic images to poster size, transforming the surface of an eyelid or a scar into a craggy moonscape where a single hair growing out of a follicle takes on the horror-movie proportions of a hideous, giant worm. Chartier takes a decidedly cheerier, and even closer, look at the body by painting pairs of chromosomes. Her bright colors and streaky effects make the chromosomes look like multicolored slugs sliding slowly across the canvas. Her paintings (as well as Cooper's micrographs) demonstrate how difficult it can be to separate art and science at this intensely small scale....



Seattle Weekly, 8/20/98, pg. 32 (with reproduction Tip Test #2)
by Tom McTaggart

Uptown, at William Traver, Jaq Chartier's paintings have taken a neat turn. For years, Chartier has done luscious work: gentle abstractions, at once both geometric and organic, in oil and wax. Her forms hover with assured yet delicate poise against luminous backgrounds. In her current exhibit, called 'Testing,' she keeps these elements, but lets her painted stains and milky films refer to the real worlds of paint chemistry and of medicine. Their titles--and the many tiny-penciled notations on them--suggest experimentation. For example, in Tip Test, paint was apparently run down the tipped panel; in Peel Test, something was applied to the surface, then torn off wet. Some pieces aren't for the squeamish. The blandly titled Oil vs. Acrylic will definitely elicit 'eeeeuwws.' With hard-edged drips like fresh blood and leached-out stains of pale pink, it recalls visits to the blood bank, especially of the finger-sticking and smear-a-slide parts. Such references, alternately detached and discomfiting, lend Chartier's work a hitherto missing intensity.



The Stranger, "Biology Lessons" 5/22/97, pg. 56
by Tom McTaggart

In painting after languid painting, Jaq Chartier gently plays geometry against organic order, in such a way that it's unclear at first that such a balancing act is occuring. Her medium is mostly wax, and oil or acrylic, on wood panels. From their luminous depths emerge wobbling rings which seem to hover above neat rows and columns of colored dots. In others, frozen blobs of color are caught mid-step in some micro-organic dance of cellular division and multiplication. They coil and cluster and follow one another like ducklings across the picture, while behind them, nearly invisible in the gray-white paraffin, float large, pale, interlocked circles-- the background radiation of a tiny cosmos. Within these minimal pictures, it becomes crucial to balance the geometric and the organic. In Chartier's less successful images, the geometry predominates, and the lack of a competing counter-order diminishes their impact. It's a fine argument for hybridization.



Seattle Times, "Gallery Walk" 7/12/96, pg. E6
by Robin Updike

...One of the most compelling shows up this month is the exhibit of Jaq Chartier's paintings at William Traver Gallery. A 1994 graduate of the University of Washington's Master of Fine Arts program, Chartier is a painter of ethereal and elegant abstractions, an expert at understated beauty. Chartier paints compositions that are minimalist arrangements of not- quite perfect circles, slightly askew ovoids and dots that won't line up in neat order. She paints in neutrals, her eggshell and pale backgrounds occasionally punctuated with ragged-edged circles of ochre or peach. Part of the beauty of the paintings come from the luscious surfaces; Chartier covers her oil- and acrylic-on-wood paintings with wax. A couple of Chartier's sparest paintings are too barren; a painting of small dots and scratches on an off-white background isn't much to look at. But most of the paintings in this show are mesmerizing and a joy to behold. In works such as 'Field of Rings' or 'Six,' Chartier has created quiet but lovely compositions that invite reflection."



Reflex, AUG/SEPT '94, pg. 19
by Elizabeth Bryant

...In the MFA exhibit at the Henry Gallery in May, painting was nearly nonexistent, although, two months later, the pieces that remain most clearly in my visual memory were both produced by painting students: One, however, was not a painting. The other I spent very little time with, and yet it has remained with me most strongly.

Jaq Chartier exhibited a number of smallish encaustics at the Henry, whose murky, neutral surfaces were reminiscent of Brice Marden. On the dully luminescent (moonlit) backgrounds were a number of polka-dots in simple variations of a cross form. These spots, in spare straight lines, sat neither on the painting's surface nor sank into it, but seemed to hover in an indefinite, ambiguous, plane. They reminded me of schematic constellations, and of a sense that what is seen in the night sky might as well be the negative presence of light poring through the holes of a cosmic colander as the positive presence of distant entities. Systematically honed from earlier large cluttered paintings, Chartier's paintings were stripped to such precise basics that they functioned as eidetic emages, capable of hovering beneath an eyelid in the space between waking and sleep.