Before settling in Bali, Indonesia in 2022, Chloe Sells (b. 1976) divided her time between her home in Botswana, where she photographed with a large format camera, and London, where she processed and printed her work. Each of her prints is the result of her in-depth manipulation of the printing process in the darkroom, at once physical, spontaneous and deliberate. She employs experimental and spontaneous methods such as screens, overlays, open-weave fabrics and movements of the paper, expertly combined to create her unique, bold and dreamy photographs. The layering of image, colour, and texture in the chromogenic prints creates a dreamy effect, transporting the viewer into unknown realms. Informed by extensive travel, residence and immersion in countries foreign to her, Sells explores the question of how places are defined, while speculating on the consequences of human experience of place.
"The layering of image, color, and texture in the chromogenic prints creates a dreamy effect, transporting the viewer into unknown realms."
- Julie Saul Gallery
Using the stylized and archetypal format of the still life, the objects within Sells' earlier work are symbolic surrogates, coordinates embedded with notations of exploration and movement. Relics of archaic civilizations, organic matter in varying states of decay, elements of the quotidian, the utilitarian, the exotic and the occult constitute the carefully constructed totems. Without conferring a specific history, the objects summoned together within each image create rather than re-create narratives. Sells' arrangements become less a document of an actual place, and more an allegory of her relationships to those places. In more recent landscape work, remnants of a childhood in the Colorado Mountains and extensive travels in adulthood have imbued Sells' work with a reverence for the sublime beauty of nature. We can see it translated to the viewer as she imbues a colourful and emotional interpretation of each environment. To Sells' the photographs interpret place as a memory or as an evocation of a feeling "I can smell them and I can feel them. Feel the air, feel the light." Her works are undeniably painterly and immediate, pushing the boundaries of process within the photographic medium.
Sells attended the Rhode Island School of Design, from which she graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography. She received her Masters in Fine Art from Central St. Martins in September 2011, and over the last decade she has lived and photographed on three continents, Asia, North America and Africa, all which have been integral to her artwork. Each of her works is a unique analogue C-type print, made by hand in the darkroom.