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Abstract Realism Portrait Artist

Artist Bio

Chanelle René is a New Jersey-based, award winning artist exploring themes of diverse beauty, freedom and self-discovery. She uses bold color and painterly brush strokes to create immersive portrait paintings in oils and mixed media. Current projects include Grant Street Beach, a series of paintings highlighting African-American generations on the segregated beach of Cape May, New Jersey from the 1920-60s that reference Chanelle’s own family photographs. 

Chanelle has exhibited throughout New Jersey and internationally at venues such as the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, Noyes Art Museum, Atlantic City Arts Foundation public installation, Cape May MAC, The Curator’s Salon and the Ocean City Arts Center as Best of Show awardee. Chanelle is self-taught who pivoted midlife from a career in digital marketing to professional artist. 

Artist contact: info@chanellerene.com

Artist Statement

Portraiture allows me to explore the complexity and nuance of the human spirit. I seek a visual embodiment of our truest self, deepest emotions and engagement with the full spectrum of modern beauty and feminine strength. As a Black woman, I not only want to reflect myself but normalize and amplify the visibility of Black women simply being. My mission is to inspire Black women to fall in love with themselves – with an invitation to take up space, honor desires and nurture the Soul.

My painting process is a mix of bold color and expressive marks applied with intention. I layer a variety of media to create depth, contrast and surface texture in my works, including spray paint, pastel, and oil paint. These materials combine to create interest, inviting the viewer to take a closer look and discover something new. Throughout this process of layering, I discover the essence of the figure I’m representing, capturing the energy and strength in her face, body, and eyes. 

Often the sitter's eyes decide if they will be a subject of my portraits. The direct female gaze was considered taboo throughout art history. With a passive gaze or eyes closed, she was simply an object of pleasure--without power, without agency. Black women were generally excluded as the main subjects in historical works. In many of my paintings, I give the direct gaze to black women, giving back her power and agency. My work contributes to the narrative of empowering black women – igniting hope and endless possibilities.