Painted Pieces features traditional Staunton chess sets transformed by celebrated contemporary artists into one-of-a-kind, hand-painted works. Featured artists include American painter Sophie Matisse, British artists Tom Hackney and Caio Locke, and influential street artists Thierry Noir and Mr Doodle, among others.
Tradition with a Twist
In this unique global collaboration, the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF) and the critically-acclaimed games maker Purling London present multimedia chess sets, pieces, boards, and interactive experiences produced by artists from around the world in Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London. The exhibition includes exquisite artwork created for Purling’s established line of games as well as chess sets and boards created especially for the WCHOF show. The traditional Staunton chess set—which was introduced in 1849 for chess tournament play and named after one of the best players of the 1840s, Howard Staunton (1810-1874)—serves as an unconventional “canvas” upon which 20 celebrated, international contemporary artists created one-of-a-kind, hand-painted works. Purling names this line of their collection Art Chess as they create a diverse line of artistic gaming sets.
Purling London’s founder, Simon Purkis, conceived of the company’s Art Chess line. “I was playing chess on a beach against an old school friend of mine. As the sun set over the sea, it became more and more difficult to differentiate between the chess pieces. I thought about an illuminated chess board and questioned why so many Staunton chess sets are brown-varnished wood—it seemed a wonderful opportunity to revamp the paradigmatic design with color! I discovered the long history of art and chess (from historic Indian and Islamic games to modern artworks by Damien Hirst and Yayoi Kusama), but found that many artist designed chess sets were exquisitely beautiful but impractical to play. I was inspired to collaborate with artists to create meaningful and handsome artworks based on the iconic Staunton shape—tradition with a twist.”
Several of the inspiring artists in the exhibition have a unique tie to the chess world or Saint Louis: Crystal Fischetti, Daniela Raytchev, and Sophie Matisse were all exhibited in the WCHOF’s 2016 exhibition Ladies’ Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess, and Matisse is the step-granddaughter of the legendary artist and French chess master Marcel Duchamp. Tom Hackney had a 2016 solo exhibition of paintings at the WCHOF (Corresponding Squares: Painting the Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp), and both he and Matisse began collaborating with Purling as a result of their WCHOF projects.
A total of 20 sets and boards from Purling’s Art Chess line as well as additional pieces will be featured among other products from Purling London, for example: Bold Chess, Neon Chess, and an exciting new experience where the visitors are encouraged to play with select chess sets through virtual reality.
Purling’s collaboration with cutting-edge VR videogame Chess Ultra will launch as part of this exhibition. Together with Purling, game developer Ripstone scanned and modeled exhibited sets from Olivia Pilling, Mr. Jiver, and Nette Robinson in stunning 4K detail for an immersive, breathtaking and interactive user experience.
A live Instagram and Twitter station will tag posts about this exhibition in real-time on a monitor in the gallery.
It is truly an honor to partner with Purling London to share the beauty of these diverse works of art at the World Chess Hall of Fame. These sets are not only exquisite, but unique and functional. Chess set makers for centuries have been expressing their own culture’s games within the creation of a chess set and Purling has taken this tradition into our own time. I became instantly fascinated by Purkis’ company after its founding in 2012, one year after the WCHOF’s 2011 opening, and though we have been fortunate enough to have collaborated with Purling in the past, I knew that we ultimately had to have an entire exhibition dedicated their celebration of the merging of chess and art—as it is a huge part of our own mission.
Our very own, award winning, Q Boutique was the first retailer of Purling London in the U.S. Though several of the sets featured in the exhibit are available for sale through Purling, sets from Purling’s Bold Chess, Darts, Checkers, Playing Cards, Turn Tokens, and more will be available at Q Boutique during the run of the exhibition.2018 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Saint Louis Chess Club, the foundation of the Saint Louis Chess Campus. The entire year will be filled with special celebrations to honor the legacy of Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield and their contribution to the resurgence of chess in America. The World Chess Hall of Fame is thrilled that Purling London and this diverse group of artists are part of this historic celebration. We hope that all of the visitors to Painted Pieces are as inspired by the ancient game as these talented artists.
—Shannon Bailey, Chief Curator, World Chess Hall of Fame
Kate Brinkworth is a highly-respected and internationally exhibiting British artist who graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art from Nottingham Trent University in 2000. She works predominantly in oils. Brinkworth’s fascination with the themes of games, vice, and the art of cinematography continues to provide her with great artistic stimulus.
“My recent chess sets have the theme of casino dice. There is always that question of which influences life more: careful planning, or chance and luck? Chess is a game of pure strategy and skill, whereas a game played with dice cannot be planned. Such a game relies on chance, is heavy with risk, and is unpredictable. The chess pieces are painted with designs based on the dice I use in my paintings, echoing this very aspect: luck and chance vs. strategy.”
Daniel Brusatin’s work is heavily influenced by nature, architecture, and literature as well as his childhood in Colombia and subsequent studies and sojourns in Florence, Milan, Paris, and the Himalayas. A multidisciplinary artist, Brusatin experiments with shapes, materials, colors, and textures to explore the poetical dimensions in the way we perceive art and life itself. Believing beauty is not a characteristic linked to any particular object but a state of understanding, he works with elements we can all relate to in a primitive sense, between abstraction and the figurative, he finds truth amongst the cognitive and the emotional response to objects.
“My illuminated, stained glass chess table is inspired by the balance between the opposites creation and destruction. The lines, as the hands of Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, from opposite sides reach to touch each other yet they never do. They maintain a tension, creating balance in the board and giving the illusion of forward movement. The pink splatters symbolize beauty of thought amid the battlefield, and they frame paradise out of it. Both sides are black (gloss black and matte black) giving the illusion of equality between battling sides, but symbolically, the light of war makes them different. Made with burnt wood and the process of stained glass, it recalls the idea that great beauty can be created through destruction.”
Mr Doodle is a crazy doodler from England! His work contains a mixture of characters, objects, and patterns with influences ranging from cereal boxes, videogames, and old cartoons, resulting in a fun and unique blend of doodle craziness. He began as a child by doodling in his sketchbooks but his rapid doodle craze took him on a fun journey of covering all kinds of objects from dining chairs to campervans. Mr Doodle’s work is described as “Graffiti Spaghetti” because it twists and tangles over everything in its path, resulting in pieces of work that have been completely doodled. You can find Mr Doodle’s work increasingly across the world in the form of murals and installations in people’s homes, offices, and on the streets.
“It was great fun doodling over the chess set. From the moment I saw the pieces, I fell in love with them and was excited at how the intricate doodles would dress each item. I chose to cover each piece with my Graffiti Spaghetti, a mixture of eyeballs, creatures, and swirl patterns that have all come directly from DoodleWorld!”
The life of a stencil artist is one of contradiction. The act of spray-painting is immediate and chaotic; yet the stencil is created painstakingly with absolute precision. A suitable medium for an artist whose life is full of contradiction and whose art continues the trend. DS, a U.S. national, UK bred, public school ex-con, strives to create visually attractive, mentally-engaging art, all wrapped up in rich color and form. His mission is to improve walls, be it with art in a gallery or home or on the street hiding in plain sight!
“Intense is a word I closely associate with the game chess, and that’s what I wanted for my chess board. The splatters of contrasting colors streak out across the board as if they are the track marks from a previous bishop attack. It’s a game played by unsuspecting assassins, who hope that you will mistake them for angels who have left that ‘vulnerable’ piece for you to take.”
Crystal Fischetti currently lives and works in Los Angeles. She is best known for her colorful, abstract, soak-stained paintings with gestural brushstroke details in acrylic or labor-intensive geometric color blocks in oils. Fischetti also works on paper, digital mediums, and is a muralist. Her works explore themes based on the human condition, space exploration, parallel universes, and utopias where the language is “Sacred Number.” She counts Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee as her major influences. Fischetti’s vibrant works are created tailor-made for private homes and offices. Her paintings are exhibited in permanent collections in museums worldwide including The Yuehu Museum of Art, Shanghai, and the San Diego Art Institute, San Diego. Born in London, England, Fischetti attended the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds in 2006, receiving a BA honours in Fine Art. Having moved from London to Los Angeles in 2015, she continues to exhibit with her international contemporaries in America and abroad.
“I was honored to create for Purling London again. Rather than making a full chess set and board, I wanted to focus on the Christmas narrative of the Three Kings. These men of wisdom travelled far and over treacherous terrain to deliver rare and sacred gifts to a baby they had full faith would bring light into the world. We have heard this story many, many times, but if we really think about it, there is something very touching about its message. It was vital for me to draw the audience into the the meanings of faith, honor, innocence, devotion, duty, and pure love. In doing so, we refer back to our own actions and intentions. These men followed their heart and left their own cares behind to do a selfless act guided by love. Upon arrival, they presented incredibly precious and symbolic gifts representing their gratitude. These gifts as we know them were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Each one has a healing power. Each king represents them with brushstrokes of radiant golds, deep reds, and purifying blues. Each piece is fully-charged with the power of love.”
Tom Hackney lives and works in London. Painting forms the basis of Hackney’s art practice, as mode, vessel, and historical narrative. Often generated in response to specific historical material, Hackney’s work incorporates existing forms and structures, which are restarted as a means of exploring more contemporary stakes. Since 2009, Hackney has been working on an ongoing series of Chess Paintings, which follow the constituent moves from the archival records of games played by Marcel Duchamp. Recent exhibitions include: Open Ground, 57w57Arts, New York (2017); Marcel Duchamp-Fountain, Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York (2017); The Thought Game, Kunsthalle Marcel Duchamp, Switzerland (2016); and Corresponding Squares: Painting the Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp, World Chess Hall of Fame, Saint Louis and Francis Naumann Fine Art, New York (2016). His work is represented in public and private collections in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East.
“Much of my practice locates itself around an intersection of art and chess—specifically, the intersection drawn together by the work and ideas of Marcel Duchamp. As exemplified by Duchamp, both art and chess can be considered in terms of their retinal and non-retinal characteristics. Where the art in one’s head can exert its influence over the art before one’s eyes, a similar paradigm can be considered in chess. Here, the physical material acts as a visible marker or placeholder for the immaterial development of the game, as played out within the constraining structure of chess; a thought-space shared between opponents. The set I have designed aims to accentuate this retinal aspect of chess, with the pieces defined by the two primary types of photoreceptor cells found in the eye—cones and rods. As the game progresses, the pieces are scattered into disordered configurations and combinations, before being reset into spectral sequence and tonal rank.”
Andrew Hancock is a conceptual British artist working in a wide variety of artistic materials and media. He graduated from Manchester University in 2006, where he studied the History of Art, with emphasis on Surrealism and its legacies. After a fulfilling early career in the professional art world, including at Christie’s Auctioneers, Frieze Art Fair, Saatchi Gallery, and the Royal Academy of Art, he turned wholly to creating art in 2012. He has subsequently exhibited and created art across the world, from Los Angeles to Moscow’s National Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing’s Chinese National Art Collection, and Malta’s Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale. He currently has an art piece loaded aboard NASA spacecraft OSIRIS-REx, which is heading to near-Earth asteroid Bennu.
Poem for Chess Temple IV:
Squared-to the Apollonian oeuvre; every symbolic stone is a cypher to the Ultimate, Confronting the Altars of White and Black, hearing you the Voices of Inside Beyond Unseen. Temple. Oracle. Fantastically given to riddles, showing truth through visions moves ahead of time. And deception, the Voice of this Mistress strikes obliquely now? Them what dwell in the diamond, dust of ether play. Masters of the Universe or die. Mate!
“My art practice is constantly evolving, heavily steeped in the mythologies of artistic practice and a continuous refinement of and struggle with the specificities of key art materials. I make paintings, drawings, sculpture, documentation, video, time-based performance, print, photography, and installation, which all sit within the unique context of the piece while engaging the wider conceptual themes under investigation. I like to mix an evolving overlapping series of ideas in a variety of media, exploring diverse subjects from the surreal, the absurd, humorous, and satirical, to aesthetics, sex and sensuality, the corporal body, art historical legacies, relational aesthetics, and anthropology.
For Purling London and the World Chess Hall of Fame, I wanted to create something that was new to me. As with all of my artworks, I approach them as a unique interaction with the structure of the concept in competition with the material manifestation of my expression. The board came first, and I was determined to use real diamond dust, which I sourced from diamond-cutters in London’s Hatton Garden. This did cause some problems. One shouldn’t complain about an overabundance of diamond dust in one’s life, but the delicate and careful sprinkling of the shining particles across the board’s surface did lead to ‘finger cramps’, so, anyone attempting some similar endeavor, be warned! When I approached the concept for the chess set and the figures, I drew upon my long-standing idea of investigating tangential ideas of ‘Temples’, or sacred spaces within my own idiom in the milieu of contemporary art. It occurred to me when conceiving of the dimensions of the chess game, the board, and the hierarchy of the chess pieces, that there are certain mathematical and social hierarchies contained within the plane of play that may be universal and which could be theoretically drawn upon. And so I created a miniature world with figures inhabiting a parallel ‘sacred’ deep-space grove or other dimensional plane of sorts.
Each piece of this set is built from elemental materials in a black and white hieroglyphic language. My motivations for its construction came when contemplating black materials and white material sources. I used a new creation from Stuart Semple’s art laboratory, the darkest, flattest, most matte black acrylic paint in the world ‘Black 2.0’, and its counterpoint, ‘Saint’, a titanium white acrylic. I incorporated real diamond dust and high-grade printers’ ‘diamond dust’ made of shards of glass in both clear and black for the two sets, and used modelling clays, plaster, molded reliefs of household objects, and sea sponge to create the idiosyncratic, surreal, fantastical, absurd fractal elements and give the individual pieces their unique characterization.
The ‘Temple’ is built in another dimension, where players, immersed in a temple of crystals and interstellar tides, conquer a world of mysteries, of minds that pulse and move, ecstatically enshrined in magical asymmetry. Among these avenues of laser-death, levitation, extra sensory sight, and chaos, players, priests, rooks, and royalty waltz and attack in harmony with the musica universalis. In a zone where all is dedicated to a new Check Mate! To determine Who will be the master for the Universe?”
Born in Militello in Val Di Catania, Sicily, Francesco Jacobello grew up surrounded by art and artistic expressions. These external circumstances have helped shape his art practice by simultaneously allowing his own personal and artistic language to develop. A core inspiration behind his works comes from the personal connection with his environment, and especially the wish to immortalize expressions and feelings that draw oneself to people, places, and situations. Jacobello categorizes his art within a new generation of artists who are influenced by the Italian Classics, but remain connected with the urban feel of contemporary practices in the present art world. To provide a deeper perspective of his art, he shares one of his personal testimonies: “Every artist has an unspoken desire to construct a bond between his creations and the public. It is not about fame or recognition but about telling your story in such a way that is their story too. And in the case of expressing this through the visual arts, this mammoth task becomes a part of one’s daily routine, even though it is something you do not glimpse as your usual daily concern in life.” Jacobello has exhibited in various venues in the UK and Europe (lately joining artists such as Carne Griffiths and Pure Evil for Marlow Art Guitars) and his works are part of public and private collections around the world including Italy, Australia, England, France, Switzerland, U.S. (California, New York, and Florida), Canada, Germany, and Brazil.
“For Autunno I decided to create something ‘classy’ and ‘royal.’ I departed from the classic black and white with the addition of hand-cut copper leaf. My inspiration came from the season that I was born in: Autumn!”
Mr. Jiver is a London based artist who has been making his name in the global graffiti scene since 1997, when he first picked up a spray can. Since being a student at London’s Central St. Martins, he has gone on to paint artwork all over the world, including New York, Barcelona, Prague, Milan, across the UK, and most notably Dubai, where he worked as part of a world renowned team of artists who successfully broke the Guinness World Record for the largest graffiti wall ever painted. Over the last 20 years, he has taken inspiration from some of his favorite artists including Futura 2000 and Dondi as well as his own artistic surroundings. His more recent abstract expressionism work on canvas brings to light some of his influences from much loved artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Franz Kline, while maintaining the strong connection to his original art form.
“When I was asked to create a chess set for Purling, I was extremely excited to get started. I usually paint really large canvases and walls, so for me to paint so small was a challenge. At the time I painted the pieces, I was using a lot of pinks and felt that it was relevant to use it when painting the chess sets. Black, pink, and white are all very strong colors and together make the perfect balance of darkness and light. There are a lot of layers in the artwork and parts that are no longer visible, much like a chess game.”
Darren John is a London-based artist known for his bold, visceral paintings that explore and celebrate the untamed creative spirit. John’s work embraces the bright colors and forms of childhood creativity—vibrant imagery that is universally recognizable and impossible to ignore.
For his debut collaboration with Purling London, Darren John has produced a chess set inspired by two works from his ‘Parallax 2.0’ series from late 2017.
“This piece features a composition made from a close crop from a previous painting, allowing for perfect harmony between the artwork’s forms and the set’s function. The work has been applied using grey and gold and is consciously finished with a combination of both sharp and textural edges.”
Lhouette first drew inspiration from East London’s street art scene, appreciating the culture as outsider and a self-taught art form. But prior to his career as an artist, Lhouette took off from his hometown to join the Royal Navy at the age of 17, and found himself traveling to the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and Europe for six months at a time. While at sea, Lhouette began to create scrapbooks, postcards, souvenirs, and his own doodles, drawing inspiration from an array of different cultures and his ever-changing surroundings. Elements of Lhouette’s early techniques can be seen among the more polished artwork of today through the use of raw materials such as forklift pallets and other industrial cast-offs. The striking binary between the old and new and the raw and the refined is the major juxtaposition inherent to Lhouette’s work. “My techniques originate from self-taught practices. I started with a mixed box of old mechanic aerosol paints and scrap sheets of salvaged wooden board. Along with a moody scanner/printer that I had acquired to create stencils and transfers, unknowingly at the time I was venturing into pop art realms...the work was beautifully raw! I try to retain that essence as the work continues to develop.” Despite a growing number of sell-out exhibitions at major commercial galleries, Lhouette still finds time to give back to the community, encouraging the younger generation to express themselves through art. His collaborative project with Brixton’s Angell Town Estate in 2016 garnered significant attention from the media. In 2017, Lhouette was hand-picked by Damien Hirst and Sir Peter Blake to exhibit his Post Urban Glamour collection at one of London’s foremost art venues, 45 Park Lane, part of the Dorchester Collection. Lhouette’s work sparked huge interest from celebrities and global art fans, old and new, are following closely to see where his impressive work will take him next. Collectors include Hollywood star Antonio Banderas, the Khayami Family, the Dorchester Collection, Ronan and Storm Keating, and Formula One engineering genius Adrian Newey OBE.
“I’ve always liked working with interesting items and materials so the chance to design a chess set really appealed to me in terms of how I can relay my style and ideas into a functioning board. Duality of an item is exciting for me or if a canvas had a previous use (many of my canvases are industrial through outs) so the premise of the board is that it can either sit as a painting on the wall and be taken off and used as a chess set or vice versa. In terms of the look and content, I wanted it to scream attention through my usual raw and refined contrasting and pop maximalism.”
Caio Locke‘s artistic development has been influenced by the process of etching and his childhood memories of London and Rio de Janeiro. His works are conjured from his imagination and combine mathematical precision with abstract thought. Locke uses color and form to express his personal response to the meeting of external and interior worlds. In this sense, the process has become a meditation, visionary in its merging of the spiritual and intellectual.
“The mountains within each piece denote the individual journeys that must be made and together lead to a greater whole, larger picture and unseen outcome. The board is a swirling, ethereal, cloud-dwelling city, a place of transience that is yet to settle upon its final form. The castle in the title refers to the castling move, the defensive safeguarding of the king in a time of potential threat, transition, and uncertainty.”
Darren MacPherson produces vibrant figurative works, which offer subtle complexity surrounding the human condition. Working in acrylic, spray paint, oil, and crayon, he creates works which demonstrate strong influences from traditional Indian art, Japanese manga, tattoo motifs, Expressionism, and urban architecture.
“I wanted to treat each piece uniquely and as a work of art in its own right. Translating my work down to such a small scale was a particular challenge, but I focused on my usual painting process and let it lead the way until I was satisfied with the finished product. The layering of the lacquer was the final stage of the painting process, and I dedicated a significant amount of time to create the kind of hard shine and depth that I had envisioned.”
Regarded as “Art Royalty,” Sophie Matisse is an international contemporary artist. She is from an extraordinarily creative family and is the great-granddaughter of Henri Matisse, daughter of sculptor and inventor Paul Matisse, and step-granddaughter of Marcel Duchamp, who was also a French chess master. Sophie Matisse is a well-renowned artist who gained much public attention for her series in which she painted classic artworks such as Mona Lisa without the figures, entitled Back in 5 Minutes. Sophie Matisse attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. While in Paris, she met and married French Pop Artist Alain Jacquet, with whom she had a daughter, Gaia in 1993. In 1996, Sophie Matisse settled in New York City and set up her studio in a district of Manhattan. In response to the terror attacks of the World Trade Center in 2001, she reinterpreted Pablo Picasso’s famous Guernica with contemporary colors replacing the monochromatic palette of the original. In 2009, Sophie Matisse hand-painted 8 chess sets for an exhibition entitled The Art of the Game. Two of her beautiful hand-painted sets were exhibited in the show Ladies’ Knight: A Female Perspective on Chess, at the World Chess Hall of Fame. Simon Purkis saw Matisse’s participation at the World Chess Hall of Fame and contacted her to begin a partnership with Purling London.
Alice in Wonderland:
“This Alice in Wonderland-inspired chess set with its candy-like colors was a lot of fun to work with. I think keeping even just an air of playfulness in any battle is essential for self-preservation! Some of the best solutions are the simplest, a useful reminder that even just a little magical thinking can not only save your skin, but also your soul.”
“This set was inspired by the work of Alain Jacquet and his use of camouflage in the early 60s. I’ve always loved how the colors, pink and grey coexist so well together. An ironic combination, though; pink feels soft and cozy alongside the grey of a rainy day. With paralleling opposites, this board sets the stage for battle while opposing pieces await to define their roles. All the 1’s are on one side and all the 0’s on the other. As the game progresses, the 1’s and 0’s conjoin, and the visual impact starts to take on a life of its own. Just as we see how pink and grey can coexist in harmony, imagine the day our world battles be fought exclusively on a board similar to this one, allowing for zero casualties as war and peace exist hand in hand.”
Christiaan Nagel is a South African-born British street artist known for his oversized mushroom sculptures made from polyurethane, which he places high up on buildings. They stretch as far as London, New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Cape Town, Los Angeles, Sydney, and Melbourne. In 2007, Nagel was invited to do his first UK solo exhibition at Coningsby Gallery near Goodge Street in London featuring his splash-paint works on airbrushed canvases. In 2009, the first unsolicited mushroom went up at Old Street roundabout with the help of two helpers who subsequently became known as “Ze Germans.” “It was after the thrill of this first installation that I went on to buy a whole pallet of expanding foam cans. These 1,000 cans lasted me two years and that was the first big wave of mushroom installations around London’s east end.” In 2014 Nagel built and installed his first Mega Mushroom at Urban Spree in Berlin. It stands 23 feet (7 meters)
tall. In 2017, he acquired the trademark EXPAND YOUR MIND®, which he says is the essence of his work. Nagel’s original works can now be found in private collections which also include works in bronze. He also has a popular Mini Mushroom range of collectibles.
“I am an avid chess player, and it was an easy yes for me to participate in this project. Over the mushroom years, I’ve developed various forms of these mushrooms including the Warhol-referenced screen-print-style mushroom, which you can see on the blocks of the chessboard. I believe in lifelong learning. Our minds are the only barriers to endless possibilities and ideas. Hence my logo, EXPAND YOUR MIND®. I am a great fan of the ideas of Richard Feynman in seeing the world from a different point of view. But my greatest influence to date is probably Charlie Munger, including his 25 Standard Causes of Human Misjudgment. EXPAND YOUR MIND® was inspired by his ideas on developing a latticework of Mental Models. Go check it out. Expand your mind…”
Thierry Noir was born in 1958 in Lyon, France, and went to Berlin in January 1982. In April 1984, Noir began to paint the Berlin Wall and is credited as being the first artist to do so. His objective was to perform one real revolutionary act: to paint the Berlin wall. Since the 1980s, Noir’s exploits and highly distinctive visual language have become world famous and immortalised in popular culture such as Wim Wenders’ 1987 film The Wings of Desire and the cover of U2’s album Achtung Baby. Today, He is increasingly recognized as a key forerunner of the modern street art movement.
“Chess is more than a game. If you consider that life is a game, then chess is like life; complicated and simple at the same time. Everything is in chess: sport, strategy, politics, warm and cold feeling, tragedy, error, joy and sadness, doubt and certainty. This piece looks like street painting and especially the Berlin Wall painting that started my life as an artist in April 1984.”
Olivia Pilling is a Northern England-based artist who works with acrylic, brush, and resin. She graduated from Nottingham Trent with a BA in Fine Art and has had significant exhibitions at centers of art in London, Lancashire, and Cheshire.
“I used strong, compulsive, separate brushstrokes to build layers of saturated rich color on the surface of the chess pieces with little blending of the paint. I find inspiration in Russian Folk art with its stylized look, strong color, pronounced use of black, and repetitive patterned detail. The resin coating was used to
encapsulate the color of the surface giving the pieces a jewel-like, glistening quality. I wanted them to look precious, like individual pieces of treasure.”
Born in Lebanon in 1967, Tony “T.” Raymonzrek spent much of his childhood helping his father with manual tasks—painting, decorating, and making furniture. He worked as a mechanic for four years from the age of fourteen, after which he found more profitable work building marble fireplaces and tiling mosaic floors.
Raymonzrek transformed a practical childhood education into a successful fine art practice. A businessman and entrepreneur, a fine artist, and a man of relentless ambition, Raymonzrek takes no less than Leonardo da Vinci as a role model, and considers himself an artist-creator rather than simply a painter. He strongly believes in being self-motivated, driven, and determined to reach one’s own goals and ambitions.
He likes to be secretive about his method and inspiration. Comparing himself to a magician, Raymonzrek encourages us to be more interested in the end result than the process that goes into it—knowing how the magic trick is done does not explain its ability to amaze.
“I wanted to create a chess set that reflects the ongoing battle over scarce resources such as gold and oil. The chess pieces are painted to reflect these commodities. The added feature of pressing a button to eliminate your enemy, by setting off smoke over the board, is a representation of a chemical attack; a real and present danger in modern warfare. Gas masks are supplied for both players to bring an added sense of realism and fuller effect of the danger. The button is to act as a dirty tactic. Either player, at any time during the game, can set off the dirty bomb as a sign of weakness and evil, if they so choose. What would it take for the player to decide the only way out is to completely extinguish the enemy with a chemical attack? This technically makes him a winner, but leaves him as a moral loser.
My main motivation is art itself. My intention for this artwork is to raise awareness of the dangers of advanced military technology and modern warfare in the wake of ever more scarce and valuable resources in our 21st Century. As competition for these finite commodities gets stronger, the potential use of dirty tactics such as chemical attacks are more likely to happen. This threatens our world peace, and deserves attention.”
Daniela Raytchev is a Slovakian/Bulgarian contemporary artist currently residing in London. Her personal experience and observation of human psyche have been a continuous source of inspiration for her work. Raytchev’s paintings and sculpture are bold, at times ironic and feminine yet feminist. Her work depicts conflicts within, enquires about social stigmas especially with regards to mental health and equal rights, and promotes honesty and positive message that change is possible. Raytchev invites the public to participate, either via interviewing her subjects or via creating multimedia artworks.
Having studied at the world’s most prestigious art and design colleges, Central St. Martins College of Art and Design and London College of Fashion, her creative talents are not restricted to one type of media. Raytchev’s work has been getting international attention. She has participated in various group shows and science conferences around the world (UK, U.S., and Russia). In 2015 during the Frieze Art Fair, Raytchev held a successful solo exhibition in London’s Notting Hill. She has been mentioned in numerous national and international press, such as the Times, Newsweek (U.S.), Dazed Digital, Huffington Post, and Bullet Media, as well as appearing and being interviewed on Slovak and Czech National radio programs, Women in Trade Magazine, and other publications.
Amongst the supporters of Raytchev’s work, who have also participated in her projects, are several British celebrities and high profile individuals, TV presenter and designer Gok Wan, actress and TV presenter Gail Porter, entrepreneur Shaa Wasmund MBA, and writer and life coach Mel Wells, to name a few.
In 2015/2016 Raytchev received the Selected Artist Award for Beat charity, that helps people affected by eating disorders. She has also established closer working relationship and supports National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in the U.S.
“A glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that keeps a given demographic (typically applied to minorities) from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. The Glass Ceiling art chess installation is a commentary on the recent turbulent climate regarding exposure of sexual assaults, inequalities, and suppression still so predominant, especially at the workplace. My personal experience sparked the inspiration for this art piece and I so closely relate to it. Glass Ceiling is a metaphor for women breaking through social barriers and limitations, and a celebration of new feminist movements such as #metoo and #timesup. The work shows that the passion and spirit for change is in its glory. It also acknowledges that a lot of blood had to be spilled to get to this stage. It reflects on the fragility of human nature, rawness of the subject and the brutal reality of what one is talking about.
The piece consists of a broken glass chessboard with the chess pieces floating through/above the board. Pink pieces represent women and face the white spiked pieces—referencing white supremacy. The chess pieces are set according to the 2012 Magnus Carlsen vs. Judit Polgar game at the Cuadrangular UNAM. Magnus became World Chess Champion in 2013—a title still held as of April 2018. Polgar is a chess grandmaster, generally considered the strongest female chess player of all time. The game is set in the 30th move that determined Polgar’s victory.”
Nette Robinson is a chess player, professional jazz singer, and artist. Modernist movements such as Constructivism, Futurism, and De Stijl have been hugely influential throughout her artistic development. She is drawn to works with clean lines, geometric shapes, and strong tonal and color contrasts. This is evident in many of her works, including her unique paintings depicting famous chess games that were exhibited at her solo show 2014 in Mayfair. She studied Fine Art with Music at Chichester, graduating in 2002, and from this time has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions.
Spoils of the Ocean:
“When I was invited to create a chess set for this exhibition, I decided to paint one with a message. I settled on the subject of the oceans, which is particularly topical now. There are so many damning reports and assessments appearing about the damage caused by such things as plastic pollution, climate change, and rising sea temperatures, resulting in the decimation of marine life and the bleaching of corals. The white pieces represent these fading corals and the opposing pieces are painted to represent the seas, contaminated with fragments of plastic. The alternating light and dark squares of my chessboard show both clear seas and the darker polluted waters. However, I also wanted my chess set to look beautiful, (as well as to be playable). These issues of pollution and climate change are terrible and more than concerning, but on this planet and in nature there is great beauty. Therefore, my chess set shows both the ‘spoiling’ factors, such as plastic debris and the wonderful ‘spoils’—the jewel-like corals, (which despite the bleaching, are still exquisite), as beautiful. It is serendipitous that the word “spoil” contains another pollutant—oil—that has wrought havoc on the seas, beaches, and sea life—which I have illustrated on many of the dark squares.”
Purling Bold Chess
Purling London’s Bold Chess Sets unite classic with contemporary, incorporating vibrant hand-carved Staunton pieces with a premium maple board. The deluxe hardwood pieces are finished with a variety of deep, glossy lacquer, and branded leather felt and include four queens per set for pawn promotion.
Each set is presented with a Purling London certificate and elegant packaging. They are available for sale at Purling London’s website and in Q Boutique at the World Chess Hall of Fame.
Purling Neon Chess
Designed by Purling’s team in London, the unique Neon Chess sets are hand-fabricated by artisans. The specially designed board lends a dramatic tone to the game, as light and shadow play upon the sleek, beautifully weighted pieces lacquered in deep color and crafted from exceptional quality hardwood.
Each set is handmade to order, down to the choice of neon colors. A pleasure to play or observe, Neon Chess is a striking addition to a contemporary interior.
Purling in Ripstone's Chess Ultra
Purling’s one-off, hand-painted Art Chess sets are widely admired, but don’t necessarily fit everyone’s budget. Through their collaboration with cutting-edge videogame, Chess Ultra, Purling London hopes to democratize these beautiful artworks and allow millions more people to experience and collect them. Together with game developer Ripstone, they have modeled the Purling chess set in stunning 4K detail and wrapped the surfaces with precisely scanned, original artwork to closely match real, physical Art Chess sets worth thousands of dollars.
They began with chess sets by Purling artists, Olivia Pilling with her fluid, warm, painterly style; street artist Mr. Jiver with his trademark magenta paint splatter; Nette Robinson with her highly-detailed St. Basil’s Cathedral inspired set; and Purling’s best-selling Bold Chess in Classic Red & Shadow Black. Players can try them in a variety of virtual reality situations such as a vast Roman museum, a stunning old manor or even against the Grim Reaper in the volcano-like “Gomorrah” environment for the most fantastical and breathtaking chess experience.
8/21/2019: Architectural Digest — 9 of the Most Beautiful Chess Sets in the World
8/29/2018: FAD Magazine — Art, Duchamp and Retinal Chess
7/25/2018: HEC TV — Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London at St. Louis' World Chess Hall of Fame (video)
7/25/2018: Business Journal — Photos: See 3 New Exhibits at World Chess Hall of Fame
7/2/2018: KSDK — 'Painted Pieces' on exhibit now at the World Chess Hall of Fame
4/24/2018: Art Daily — Three groundbreaking chess exhibitions open at the World Chess Hall of Fame
4/13/2018: River Front Times — Painted Pieces: Art Chess from Purling London
4/6/2018: Go Nintendo — Chess Ultra X Purling London Collaboration Brings Original Artwork by Celebrated Artists to the Virtual World
3/22/2018: Press Release — Tradition with a Twist: New Exhibition at the World Chess Hall of Fame Features Chess Sets by International Artists from Purling London
2018 Spring Exhibitions Opening Reception
Thursday, April 12 5pmRead More
Crafts & Cocktails: Faux Gold Workshop with Rudy Zapf
Wednesday, April 18 6pmRead More
Crafts & Cocktails: Make and Play
Wednesday, May 9 6pmRead More
Crafts & Cocktails: Marbling with Gina Alvarez
Wednesday, June 20 6pmRead More
Crafts & Cocktails: Collage Workshop with Sarah Walters
Wednesday, August 1 6pmRead More
Meet the Artist: Nette Robinson
Thursday, August 23 5pmRead More
Crafts & Cocktails: Doodle Tote Bags with Taylor Bardsley
Wednesday, September 5 6pmRead More
Chemical Warfare: Aronian vs. Domínguez
Thursday, September 13 6pmRead More