For Len Chmiel, each painting he creates is an expression of himself. He has said, “I really believe that I came from the dirt…I feel this real physical and emotional and spiritual connection. I actually get into a dialogue with what I’m painting.” It is Chmiel’s emphasis on his encounter with nature, as a personal experience, rather than the specifics of the landscape that set him apart from the nexus of contemporary Western art. What Chmiel explores in his work is not the landscape itself but his connection to it. His interaction with fragments of nature – a rock in a stream, snowmelt on a riverbank – with a degree of focus that almost reaches abstraction, then becomes the representation of what was reality for the artist in the moment.
For the first time over the course of his career, Len now feels that he is willing to offer a selection of his “reference” paintings for sale. These small, important jewels are paintings that he has held back and personally valued over the years. Len notes, “These small paintings … are thoughtfully executed to stand alone as complete works. That I have used them for reference for larger work is a way to remind myself of my thought process on location and of the experiments I attempted.”
Len Chmiel has had numerous sell-out one man shows, and has been featured in Southwest Art Magazine, Business Week, Western Art Digest, and American Art Magazine. His work has been collected by museums and major corporations across the United States and can be seen in such prestigious shows as the Prix de West Invitational and the Masters of the American West at the Autry Museum. His extraordinary painting, Life Imitates Art, which is now part of the National Wildlife Museum in Jackson, Wyoming, received the Artists Choice Award at the 2002 Autry Masters. Len Chmiel: an Authentic Nature depicts four decades of the artist’s “melodic, evocative, and often abstracted depictions of the land”[i] was published in 2012.