Kevin Chadwick is a native of Levittown, New York, who has been living and working in the American south for four decades.
Graduating from the art institute of Pittsburgh in 1976 with associate degree in illustration in 1976, he moved to Washington DC to pursue a career as an illustrator, establishing his own firm and producing widely lauded work for clients like National Geographic, PBS, and the Washington Post.
Among the variety of techniques Kevin employed during his time working as an illustrator, he discovered an overwhelming passion for oil paint and gradually drifted away from illustration to work instead as a full-time painter.
Since committing himself to painting, Kevin has migrated further south, settling in Lynchburg, Virginia, among the early artists to recognize the city for its artistic potential. He has been working from a studio space converted from one of the many historic shoe factories lining the riverfront. His time in Lynchburg has seen the development of a distinctive portrait style that has earned him global acclaim.
His work is showcased in the permanent collections of the Caring Institute, in Washington, DC, the World Mercy Fund in Bad Homburg, Germany, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
As a young boy, sketching the faces of fellow churchgoers on a sheet of white paper kept me occupied during more than a couple methodist sermons. The faces and personalities of nearby strangers have always presented me with a rich
and deeply nuanced subject matter. There is a great, imperceptible void between all people, whether a factor of time, place, or individual circumstance, that challenges us to understand the many
peripheral worlds surrounding our own.
I fill a canvas with an individual story. In telling the stories of the contemporary south, mainly through encounters with its African American faces and personalities, I divulge my own curiosity. For me, each painting is a journey into the space of individual wit and wisdom; hardships, joys, and vivacity are captured in a single moment. I incorporate west African symbolism reimagined within a southern landscape defined by its color, by bright patterns and many different shades of skin.
My portraits are driven by the beauty of ordinary life. A bus stop in Charlottesville, a street corner in Lynchburg, and dozens of other small and unforeseen places have all served as inspiration for some of my most rewarding of rhythms and energies that define southern life.
After applying acrylic paint, patterned with layers of tape to establish a background and prepare the canvas, the figures themselves are brought to life with oil paint. My study of the human condition has brought me farther and farther away from my own roots. Now I find myself pursuing smaller patterns and incorporating different faces from backgrounds that break with my own. I find myself again returning to darker skin tones and bright, jubilant, but fully authentic characters.