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Chantala Kommanivah

Chantala Kommanivanh is a high energy and actively engaged emerging Laotian American artist. He is both a visual artist and has an active role as one half of the dynamic hip-hop duo “Maintenance Crew” with whom he has released 4 full-length albums. The rap music and the visual work have areas of overlap in terms of their meaning and content. His work has been displayed in three solo exhibitions in the Chicago area galleries and has been included in numerous group and invitational exhibitions in the U.S. He received his M.F.A at UW-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts for painting and drawing and has achieved numerous awards such as the Union League Civic & Arts foundation award and a two time A.O.P Fellowship award recipient. Chantala Kommanivanh lives and works in Chicago.



Forget Nothing represents bits and pieces of my childhood experience. I am interested in reinterpreting the past as an attempt to document my history. The paintings are derived from personal and found photographs representing a pivotal time and place in my life.  I grew up in Albany Park, a very diverse immigrant community in Chicago. At home, I was raised with traditional Lao customs, but actively engaged in hip-hop culture outside my home. This body of work embodies a cultural hybridity; it blends my Laotian up bringing with urban American imagery.

With the guidance of photographs, I am re-experiencing familiar places and visiting familiar faces by the act of painting them. Through this process I am activating one experience to intensify another. These paintings are of people affected by cross-cultural conflicts and tensions that create issues of personal identity. They are of single and multiple standing figures and they are at times confrontational. I handle paint loosely, with a mix of soft and aggressive marks layered with lush drips of diluted paint. The intense, vibrant colors and broken, aggressive marks are used intentionally to disrupt the balance between normalcy and discomfort. The figures in the paintings are treated crudely. Their faces are melting, their mouths are crooked and their eyes are staring right into you. They are ugly, but they are human.


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