At a very young age Chase Langford started studying and drawing maps. The first maps he recalls were the highway maps stashed in the glove box of his family’s Ford Country Squire station. By Langford’s teens he had a map and atlas collection in the thousands and spent his free time engorged in cartography.
Langford’s fascination of maps led him to study cartography at UC Santa Barbara and followed with a career creating maps for faculty at UCLA. The effect of spending much of a lifetime intimately tracing coasts, rivers, highways and more inevitably created the visual rhythms of geography that largely make up Langford’s pictorial sensibility.
The interplay of a lifetime of maps and fine art painting became most apparent in the late 1980’s when Langford started to create map paintings. Their purpose was not to explain the geography of a place but rather to use the essence of geographic forms to re-express them in an entirely new way.
Today Langford’s paintings still echo their geographic foundation. Whether is it translating the essence of the sand patterns made by the waves on Baker Beach or the dusty Kalahari as seen from a plane. His latest series, Morphic, adds in the influence of landscape views such as the view from his ridge top studio off Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. This new series represents a significant shift from the two-dimensional map view to an abstract composition that implies a three-dimensional space.
Langford’s Chroma series came about in 2003 when he was working on a painting that he deemed unsuccessful. He started to obliterate the work by covering it up with short repetitive even strokes. Stepping back he saw an intriguing affect and over 100 practice works later he perfected the brush work technique for the Chroma series.
These works start dark and bold, building up layers that are gradually lighter and less saturated. The subtle colors and tones juxtaposed in horizontal bands create a flickering effect of light and hue. Within each band exists delicate streaking to keep the works alive and vibrant. Langford leaves a fine gap between the bands to leak out the some of the color bands painted underneath. The result are paintings that are serene and contemplative, luring the viewer into a meditative state.