PM/AM is a contemporary art gallery located on the border of Soho and Fitzorovia in the heart of London. It hosts a busy programme of shows across the two exhibition floors of the Eastcastle Street space. The gallery’s lower ground floor studio provides the location for a residency space for international and under-represented artists to develop their practice. Together the spaces form a unique cultural and creative hub in the bustling centre of the city.
PM/AM’s mission is to reflect through art how we engage with ourselves and the world today, expressed through the artists it is fortunate enough to work with. Recent graduates, those emerging into the spotlight and in their mid-careers on the international stage all feature across a dynamic programme. The gallery works on the vanguard of the emerging art sector, responsible for finding artists of tomorrow, and is keen to explore and present work originating from the many interlocking diasporas of the world. PM/AM’s plays a part in the incubation of contemporary art’s future by representing a carefully selected roster of artists, working with them to initiate and grow lasting careers in the global art world.
As a dynamic arts organisation PM/AM’s activities extend beyond exhibitions into consultation, publications and editorial, providing the means to facilitate placements with collectors and institutions, and create extended content to further support and expose the artists we work with. This self-contained structure is key to the gallery’s broad outlook and capabilities, however we value collaborations with external writers, curators and other galleries to realise our goals.
PM/AM presents ‘11’, an online exhibition of work from US artist Chloe West. Chloe was born and raised in Cheyenne, Wyoming and currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she gained an MFA in Fine Art at Washington University in St. Louis. Both Wyoming and St. Louis hold deep significance in her life and play dominant roles in the creation of her paintings. Chloe returned to Wyoming at the beginning of the pandemic, a move that has profoundly influenced her current work. This is the longest that she has spent in Wyoming since she moved to St. Louis five years ago. Like so many young adults returning home during this period, she spent this time exploring the surroundings she grew up in and analysing them in a markedly different context: in her case, walking the High Plains.
West’s previous work analysed the portrayal of the body in relation to the city, exhibiting fragmented figures in the context of mundane interiors; windows, linoleum floor tiles, and objects such as tables. After long walks on the plains, she began to create images of the body as it relates to the landscape. Chloe collected objects she encountered on these hikes, frequently gathering animal bones scattered throughout the vast range, informing painted images of herself with her found artefacts.
Georgia O’Keeffe, a frequent collector of bones found in the New Mexico desert, wrote: “I have wanted to paint the desert and I haven’t known how. So, I brought home the bleached bones as my symbols of the desert. To me they are as beautiful as anything I know. To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around – hair, eyes and all with their tails switching. The bones seem to cut sharply to the centre of something that is keenly alive on the desert even though it is vast and empty and untouchable – and knows no kindness with all its beauty.”
This paradox – that death, in finally revealing the body’s hidden inner structures, speaks to us more powerfully about life than the living body itself – is one explored by both O’Keeffe and West. This trope is part of a cultural narrative that’s as old as human expression itself: the idea that contemplating death is the best way to sharpen one’s apprehension of life. Whether it’s a traditional memento mori on the writer’s desk, the anamorphic skull secreted in The Ambassadors, or a Mayan death mask, art returns again and again to gaze across at “the undiscovered country from whose bourn / no traveller returns”.
“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
—T S Eliot, from ‘Little Gidding’
In the late 16th century and throughout the 17th, there emerged the artistic genre known as vanitas (the Latin for “emptiness” or “vanity”). Originally popular in Holland and then spreading to other European nations (including Holbein’s Germany), vanitas paintings typically represented symbolic objects such as human skulls, guttering candles, wilting flowers, butterflies and hourglasses.
In combination, vanitas assemblies conveyed the impermanence of human endeavours and of the decay that is inevitable with the passage of time. The moral and religious implications of these observations are of course there for the taking: time is short, and as Horace wrote, “Pale death knocks with the same tempo upon the huts of the poor and the towers of kings”. Death is also the great leveller. In the 16th century, it was fashionable for women to wear timepieces or jewellery as a memento mori, a practice made notable by Mary Queen of Scots. For many at this time, the transience of life was the best justification for a carpe diem attitude: as Marvell famously wrote during the same period:
But at my back I always hear
Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found …
The naked body – whether of the contemporary artist or Marvell’s coy mistress, naturally takes centre stage in this drama. It is the quintessential reminder of the enjoyment of life and the permanence of death. In part, the nude is beautiful because it has a skeleton inside it.
Born: 1993, Cheyenne, Wyoming USA.
Lives and works in St. Louis.
2021 – 11. PM/AM, London.
2020 – With Fixed Eyes. Laramie County Community College, Virtual Art Gallery.
2020 – Looker. Monaco Gallery, St. Louis.
2019 – 1st Flr Apt. Practise Gallery, Chicago.
2018 – To Name a Thing. The Millitzer Gallery, St. Louis.
2018 – To Name Another Thing. Artworks Loveland, Loveland.
2014 – Gender & Identity. Gallery 234, University of Wyoming, Laramie.
2014 – The Haunted & the Haunting. This & That Gallery, University of Wyoming, Laramie.
Selected Group Exhibitions
2021 – Rights Of Passage. Unit, London.
2021 – The Devil’s Bathtub. No Place, Columbus.
2021 – Both Sides Now. Projects+Gallery, St. Louis.
2019 – Eight Works. Granite City Art & Design District, Granite City.
2019 – A Greater Self Portrait Project. Flood Plain Gallery, St. Louis.
2019 – Red, Black, Blue. Techartista, St. Louis.
2019 – Counterpublic, The Luminary, St. Louis.
2019 – Royale. Monaco Gallery, St. Louis.
2018 – Lot 49. The Luminary, St. Louis.
2017 – MFA Thesis Exhibition. Kemper Art Museum, St. Louis.
2017 – Governor’s Capitol Art Exhibition. Wyoming State Museum, Cheyenne.
2016 – Their Way. The Millitzer Gallery, St. Louis.
2016 – Parabola: Reverberate. Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis.
2015 – Parabola: Fractured/Self. Des Lee Gallery, St. Louis.
2015 – Rocky Mountain Invitational. Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper.
2014 – Rocky Mountain Invitational. Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper.
2014 – Western Spirit (People’s Choice Award). Old West Museum, Cheyenne.
2014 – Niche Awards, Philadelphia.