The metro art scene has been inconsolable about the recent frenzy over the late artist Chuck Charles’s only work, “Resplendence in Equanimity”.
The minimalist, post-modern oeuvre rendered in coffee on a swatch of brown packing paper was found in the break room of Le Prétentieux, a high-end gallery where Charles was custodian. Fellow employees didn’t even know he was an artist until after his funeral.
The artwork was stretched out on a table, with a mug, sandwich wrapper, and potato chip bag arranged playfully on the medium. It’s not clear if the artist’s intent was for these items to be part of the assemblage.
The ethereal nature of this avant-garde composition draws the viewer in slowly, with a disarming simplicity that seems to whisper a forbidden secret: “I’m not even art.” It’s an effortless ease to the paradoxical denial that gives it an unavoidable allure. The flirty, plaintive drone of a recycled paper table covering dances with adamant, almost unintentional-looking coffee stains. It’s made to look like someone literally grabbed it off the break room table and slapped it on the wall without a frame.
That playful, nonchalant haphazard guise definitely raised attention. Art appraisers and dealers have stumbled over each other to make offers for the work, which is expected to fetch high six figures in auction.
Charles, called by friends and colleagues “Charley”, was two weeks from retirement and died unexpectedly over the weekend and left a widow. Gallery owner Serge Frond has claimed ownership in “Resplendence” as it is considered a work for hire created in the scope of Charles’s employment.
Enterprising art hounds have taken to looking through the Charles family’s trash, seeking other works that might have been inadvertently tossed. There’s discussion of a possible pair of sweat pants with spaghetti sauce flourish, and a series of broken down cardboard boxes with unique tearing patterns said to be indicative of Charles’s style.
Charles may not have been an artist, or ever expressed any interest in making fine art, but his one foray into the field so far is a towering triumph.