Reframing Victorian aesthetics.
I appropriated mainly Victorian imagery for my Nocturne series. Aesthetics—beauty or decoration over narrative or substance—were in vogue during that era. Negating that beauty is part of the conceptual process I go through. In selecting largely Victorian, Romantic, or Baroque imagery from history, I am negating much of the art’s purpose: which is to be beautiful and realistic (“a window into the soul” of the sitter, as it were). I focus exclusively on portraiture in the Nocturne series because that’s the most formal subject matter of all (aside from religious imagery, perhaps). We pay such reverence to portraiture in art history that to behave irreverently toward these formal renderings disrupts virtually every function of the original work. My work is meant to be a critique of the institution of art history, causing people to question their own allegiances to particular objects, styles, concepts, ideas, and even the people in their own lives.
Born in 1983 in Illinois, Chad Wys is a multimedia visual artist and writer who lives and works in the United States. In his artwork, Wys appropriates motifs from art history as well as images and objects from popular culture. He subverts and recontextualizes their cultural meaning through aesthetic experimentation and manipulation via a host of traditional and non-traditional media, juxtaposing conflicting sentiments and styles in order to invoke critical thinking in the viewer. Color, form, unity, identity, and semiotics are constant investigations.