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Chantalism: Art Talk

The man. The legend. Chantala Kommanivanh steps into the radio studio and talks culture, art, and his personal rap career with Lakeshore's Sarah Opat On the Radar. 

Fresh beats  (all songs) by Chantala's group: Maintenance Crew

All Gold Everything, 2016 54″ x 37″ Acrylic, oil, spray paint on canvas


Chantala Kommanivanh is an award-winning Lao American Artist, Educator, and Musician.

He brings years of experience in writing, producing, and performing on stage as co-founding member of the independent hip-hop duo Maintenance Crew. Under the moniker Chantalism, Kommanivanh wrote and produced along with long-time collaborator Diego “Ubiquity” Prieto, releasing four full-length albums (ex. Eternal Sunshine of the simple mind in 2005, Simple is the way its spoken 2007, Plain and Simple 2010, and The Collapse of a Mcdonldlize Society in 2012).

The rap music he’s produced with Maintenance Crew and the visual components of Kommanivanh’s work have areas of overlap in terms of their meaning and content.

He is interested in creating new memories by “sampling” from past events. Through painting, the work is a reinterpretation of memories documenting his personal history. 

Carla, 2016 23″ x 22″ Mix Media on canvas

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Raised with traditional Lao customs at home and active in hip-hop culture outside his home, Kommanivanh’s work investigates cultural hybridity and tensions of identity, as he and his family were refugees from the unfortunate outcomes of the 1964-1975 Secret War in Laos.

His collection of paintings derives from personal and found photographs representing pivotal times in his life. His visual works has been displayed in five major solo exhibitions in the Chicago and Midwestern area art galleries and has been included in numerous group and invitational exhibitions across the U.S.

Enter, 2016 48″x48″Crayon Oil and spray paint on canvas

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Snow Beach and Spaulding, 2014 96” x 96” Oil and spray paint on canvas

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Autumn in Chicago, 2009 4’x5′ mixed media on canvas

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He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation award in 2009 and is a two-time awardee of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Advance Opportunity Program Fellowship award in 2011 and 2012. Congress Lady Tammy Duckworth has also recognized him for his service of excellence to Illinois’s 8th district arts community in 2013.

4 piece mild, fries, and a grape pop, 2014 48″ x 60″ Acrylic, oil and spray paint on canvas

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Kommanivanh earned his Bachelor degree at Northeastern Illinois University in 2008 and a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts in 2012. Today he has found his way back to his hometown of Chicago and teaches at his alma mater since 2012, where he is an arts Professor.

Find more of Chantala's art here: https://chantalism-art.com/works/#jp-carousel-368

Sao Lao 1, 2012 72”x62” Oil & spray paint with attached fibers on canvas

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Connect with the legend on Instagram: @Chantalism


Dancing For Mother, 2008 4’x6′ mixed media on denim

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Phife, 2016 24″x18″ Mix Media on canvas

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They don’t dance no’mo… All they do is this. 2016 28″x24″ Mix Media on muslin

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Sao Noi, 2015 36" x 48" Oil and spray paint with attached fiber

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The name is Sarah Opat. She produces and hosts Lakeshore Public Radio segment, "On the Radar" on 89.1 FM.
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