Aleah Chapin | More than skin-deep


AUNTIE  (2011) Oil on canvas, 58 x 38 inches. Won the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2012. ”Auntie” is a friend of her mother’s and was actually in the room when Aleah was born

In the aftermath of the recent Charlie Hebdo insanity that scarred – and scared – our ”civilized” society deeply, I turn to the most effective soul healing remedy I know – Art.

Timeless and contemporary, inspired and  inspiring, fresh, unsaturated – art that can restore one’s faith in humanity. Like the work of Aleah Chapin.

A young artist whom I first discovered on the occasion of her recent exhibition at the Flowers Gallery in London. And while I missed the exhibition I was instantly enthralled by her organic, penetrating and moving art. I think what excited me most is the feeling of intimacy, authenticity and humanism exuded in her every brush stroke.

For her ongoing project ”Aunties”, Chapin painted women she grew up with and has known all her life. She works from photos she composes and takes herself because ”I can see the person as they are, and their personality can come through instead of me imposing an idea on them by way of making them stand in a certain pose for 100+ hours”. The ”aunties” seem perfectly at ease in their nudity, there is playfulness, complicity and a sense of togetherness in every composition.

Chapin paints her friends; she paints wrinkles, scars, nature’s gifts upon the body of those extraordinary women who took their cloths off in the knowledge that their nude images will travel the world. There is a certain bravery and confidence in displaying imperfections, pubic hair and sagging bosoms so nonchalantly. In their way, the aunties remind us that it is okay to grow old; it is only part of the process of being human.

And that’s what I find  incredibly moving about Chapin’s work; in her loving study of the female body, her extraordinary depiction of skin and her beautiful – almost pagan – compositions, Chapin paints women in all sizes, shapes and ages. Women who grow old. Graceful, vibrant, dignified. Real women. Like you & me.

Chapin Interfold

INTERFOLD (2012) Oil on canvas, 72 x 120 inches



IT WAS THE SOUND OF THEIR FEET (2014) Oil on linen, 84 x 120 inches



ZEPHYR (2014) Oil on canvas, 40 x 40 inches



STEP (2012) Oil on canvas, 74 x 61 inches



Aleah Chapin in front of THE TEMPEST (2013) Oil on canvas, 82 x 82 inches

Born in 1986, Aleah Chapin grew up on an island north of Seattle. She received her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in 2009 and her MFA from the New York Academy of Art in 2012, followed by a Postgraduate Fellowship. Aleah attended a residency at the Leipzig International Art Programme in Germany and in the fall of 2013 she was a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Posey Foundation Scholarship and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Grant. 

In 2012, Aleah won first place in the BP Portrait Award Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London. She was the first ever female American artist to win the award. She has exhibited her work in the US, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. 

Aleah lives and paints in Brooklyn, New York. 

Find more about the artist and her work on: