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Improvisation drives Lanham artist's abstract paintings

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Photo by Wanda Jackson. “The Gathering” is a mixed media work on canvas by Laurence Chandler, who works from his home studio in Lanham.

Photo by Wanda Jackson. “The Gathering” is a mixed media work on canvas by Laurence Chandler, who works from his home studio in Lanham.

Published on: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Wanda Jackson

In his Lanham studio, artist Laurence Chandler creates his paintings without any preconceptions, sketches or plans.

His paintings remind onlookers of walking down a crowded city street while focusing on a few passing shapes and faces. Or, they evoke mystery, intrigue and emotion, especially upon a second or third viewing.

Chandler’s paintings incorporate many of the abstract elements — lines, shapes, forms and colors — associated with earlier modernists and contemporaneous artists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Sam Gilliam and Mark Rothko to depict emotions and spiritual ideas as opposed to tangible items and figures in the real world.

“When people view my art, I want them to be drawn in and their curiosities piqued,” Chandler said. “I want them to take their own journey, ask their own questions and, most of all, form their own conclusions.

“I want them to leisurely meander through my painting and ponder what the thought process must have been like when the painting was taking on life.”

In his mixed media work on canvas, “The Gathering,” Chandler generated a fiery chaos. His natural language is improvisation.

The surface of the painting has a mixed medley of brilliant colors: yellow, red, violet, blue violet, teal and gold. Gentle shifts from one hue to the next endow underlying patchwork-like shapes, creating an organic quality.

In its rhythmic mix of colors, thick black lines conjure up “”a gathering of formally-dressed African drummers,” transporting viewers into a spontaneous dance.

“I see them as spiritual messengers linked to our inner selves,” Chandler said. “We all want that deeper connection to something, underneath the surface. The trick is to be present in the moment.”

Chandler, a Baltimore native and Maryland Institute College of Art graduate, has exhibited in the Washington, D.C., metro area at Strathmore, Montpelier Arts Center, Touchstone Gallery, Gallery West and Meeting House Gallery in Columbia. His work also has been featured in California, Georgia and Tennessee art galleries.

Chandler’s artwork has been shown in American Art Collector Magazine’s “Art Lover’s Guide to Collecting Fine Art in Washington, DC” and at Reagan National Airport in “MICA Takes Flight,” which showcased works by MICA alumni. Many of his works are in private and corporate collections.

Chandler’s works can be viewed online through his website at For studio appointments to see his works or other inquiries, send an email to

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