Robert Chee Original Painting of Diné Man and Yei Figure [SOLD]


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Robert Chee, Diné Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: casein
  • Size:
    17-½” x 14-½” image;
    25” x 22” framed
  • Item # C4599H
  • SOLD

This original painting was created by Diné of the Navajo Nation artist Robert Chee. In this scene, a Diné man is riding on the back of a donkey. A second donkey joins, making a trio of travelers. They've paused their journey; they stare off into the distance at someone or something that will remain mysterious to the viewer. Up above, a Yei figure floats across an intermittently cloudy sky, looking down toward the group of travelers.

Chee’s work here is, as usual, inventive and appealing. He had a way with crafting images that are warm and accessible, in a similar manner to Beatien Yazz—the colors and compositions are strong, the figures are imbued with personality, and the desert landscapes are stylish. Each piece is a success on a technical level, with excellent linework and a great deal of depth in the figures’ forms. This piece is no exception. It’s another fine example of Robert Chee’s work.

Artist signature of Robert Chee, Diné of the Navajo Nation Painter.The painting is signed Robert Chee in lower right.  It is framed in a carved wood frame with multiple layers of matting in tan, gray, and white.

Robert Chee (1937-1971) Hashke-Yil-e-Cale was a Diné painter whose life and career were, unfortunately, very short. Chee's mother recognized his talent and enrolled him at Brigham, Utah's Inter-Mountain School. There, he studied with famous Apache artist Allan Houser.  He was in the military from 1958 to 1961, and was actively creating art then, too, painting murals in Army facilities in Germany. Chee's paintings are almost always in keeping with the traditional Diné style, which had already been made recognizable by artists like Harrison Begay, Quincy Tahoma, and Gerald Nailor. The influence of these predecessors is clear in his paintings, particularly in his subjects' faces. The fine lines and incredible detail for which the pioneering Diné painters are rightfully celebrated is present in Chee's strongest works. Chee died in 1971, at just 34 years old.

Condition: very good condition, a few small discolorations

Provenance: this Robert Chee Original Painting of Diné Man and Yei Figure is from a private collection of an Oklahoma resident

Recommended Reading: Southwest Indian Painting: a changing art by Clara Lee Tanner

TAGS: Diné of the Navajo NationAllan HouserApacheNative American PaintingsRobert Chee, Diné Painter

Close-up view of a section of this painting.