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Painter Chester Arnold's realism reflects an altered world at FAM

May 18, 2022 by Aaron

By Aaron Collins

(FRESNO, CA) - Fifty years is a long time for painters to reveal what they're about as artists. With his current 50-year retrospective at Fresno Art Museum entitled Reports to the Contrary: A Persistent Vision - Paintings 1971-2021, Napa-area painter Chester Arnold has captured a world increasingly altered and unrecognizable. While the environmental shifts which Arnold has documented over five decades have been unkind, this skillful artist has matured in his fairly unwavering approach to depicting the world as it is, good and bad. If an artist's job is to tell the truth--a tall order for even the greatest among them--Arnold has courageously and cleverly delivered the bad news with an unsparing eye for the garbage, destruction and climate impacts that have long imbued his work. The result is an oeuvre that places him in good stead with contemporary artists like Alexis Rockman, Mary Mattingly, Olafur Eliason and others whose fame may exceed that of Arnold, but whose retrospective was well-earned and long overdue proof that the times have finally met the artist.

Chester Arnold, Reports to the Contrary: A Persistent Vision is on view at Fresno Art Museum through June 26, 2022. Curator: Michele Ellis Pracy, FAM Executive Director and Chief Curator.

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