Chad Coombs was born in 1982 in Saskatoon, Canada. Coombs was interested in art already at an early age and started to paint. However, the attempted re-education of left-to right- handedness and his onesided visual impairment (a legally blind right eye) made working in this field of art very difficult for him. Only on discovering photography as an artistic medium did his full creative potential have the chance to develop. The camera offers him exactly the creative meaningfulness that remained denied to him in painting.
The autodidact Chad Coombs himself appoints Richard Avedon as one of his idols and his photographic inspiration. He therefore also seeks with his photographs to shake up and disturb the viewer, but above all he wants to encourage him to think and feel. His work is supposed to appeal to the viewer and have an effect on him, but not to impose a particular view. Coombs is more interested in the feelings, which are hidden behind a photograph.
In his series POLAROIDS (2006-2012) Chad Coombs portrays women’s heads. The images seem to take up his picturesque attempts from the early days of his career in some way and combine photography with graphic and painterly approaches. Coombs scrapes the inner part or the outer layer of the positive manually with screws and nails. The carvings replace the sitter’s hair and frame, as dark lines, vines and ornamental the women’s heads. With these Coombs is able to add sharp contours to his portraits without destroying their blurred impression. This contrast emphasizes the gentle beauty and delicacy of facial features even further. Painting techniques and photography reach a perfect balance and create beautiful portraits.
In his series PEELED (2004-2010) Coombs peels apart the extinct TimeZero Polaroid film. Scraping away layers of the dried emulsion around his photographed portraits. He brings to life a true even balance of sculpture and photographic techniques within this series and demonstrates his ability to merge multiple mediums within a single works.
In his sequence SMILE (2012) Chad Coombs also concentrates on faces – food, sewing thread and other everyday things, such as bottle openers and cigarettes serve him as eyes, noses and mouths. Fried eggs turn into eyes, cuttlefish into noses and moustaches and open zippers smile at the viewer. This still life series lives up to its title: the photographs show not only a smile they also evoke one.
In his portrait work, Coombs photographs complete strangers in both film and digital formats. He states his digital work he tries to portray the individual how they wish to be, while with his film he tries to capture what they try to hide and mask. Coombs’ portrait work walks the line between fashion and documentation, like a street photographer capturing society as it passes through his studio on its travels.
In his series Future WildLife Portraits (2007) Coombs creates animal portrait scenes from the future. Depicting what the world may or may not look like if we as humans continue our over taking and polluting of the environment. Scenes with bears under surveillance and mountains filled with highways and oil spills are just a few of the scenarios depicted within this series. A series that has only become more plausible in time since its creation.
Chad Coombs is a fine art photographer/painter who lives and works within Saskatoon, Canada.