Chantal Barlow was born to her Portuguese mother and African American father on January 7, 1987 in El Paso, Texas, where her father was stationed in the United States Army. Shortly after her birth, her family permanently moved to Austin, Texas. Chantal has been painting since she had her own bedroom in her parents' first home, often told not to stain the new flooring and to return the foil and saran wrap she was "borrowing" to create texture in her work on canvas.
From adolescence through adulthood, Chantal experienced extensive travels with her family, but was most impacted by her mother's home country, Portugal. While living there for months at a time, she absorbed the topography and starkly contrasting daily life. These influences remain in her work today, as many of her pieces have Portuguese titles or have been inspired by Portuguese cities.
Chantal moved to Los Angeles, California in 2005 to pursue her interest in media production at multiple higher education institutions, receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Production in 2009, specializing in Digital Film and Post Production. She continued to paint, and was introduced to using wood by a fine artist that works on organic materials during a creative exchange session. In short order, painting on wood became her preference, enjoying its texture and unpredictability, prompting her long-term experimentation with various paints, wood stains and chemicals.
Throughout this time, Chantal was reclusive with her work, only occasionally gifting paintings to close friends and family. She was heavily encouraged to exhibit by friends who viewed her work. Chantal eventually took heed and had her first group show in 2011 and has exhibited in Los Angeles ever since.
Intertwined with the support from curators and collectors alike, she has also experienced much favor online, and in particular Saatchi Art since her painting, “Little Wave”, was featured as Art of the Day in 2011. Rebecca Wilson, Chief Curator of Saatchi Art, has highlighted Chantal’s work in multiple collections on the website and on social media platforms leading to sales on the site and international exposure.
Creating is an opportunity to process life. I let my daily experiences pass through me onto a forever-preserved medium. My paintings are the remnants of human experience: emotional state, physical environment, music, and weather - all aspects of a moment. When observing my work, I recall the sacred space present for each piece's inception.
My paintings are a result of a craft I've developed over many years of experimenting and testing chemical reactions among a range of materials from concept to completion. In sum, I manipulate the viscosity of paint to create texture and depth. Using wood stain and aged and recently mixed paints, I am able to create an aesthetic that appears both ancient and newly formed. Within this process, I utilize paints as the various chemical components separate in their containers, harvesting the clear gloss that rises to the surface. After these initial reactions occur, I delicately incorporate sea water as one of many catalysts deliberately creating seamless movement throughout my work.
Due to the robust nature of my materials and prolonged layering process, wood as a medium is preferred. Knots and uneven texture provide the character and versatility that allow for a unique painting experience each time I create. The culmination of bonding media and method to canvas results in paintings that appear, in some instances, to be an aerial perspective of various segments of the Earth's topography, and a satellite image of the universe's galaxies in others.
My work often persuades the viewer to examine each piece closely, muting external stimulants and creating a profoundly intimate viewing experience. It is in this moment that I feel I have absorbed human experience that sparked the impetus to create, and communicated humanity back to itself.