psihodelična centrifuga za pranje mrlja od sperme, krvi i kečapa s mozgova pop-generacije
srijeda, 5. prosinca 2012.
Catherine Howe - Night Painting with Mysterious Figure
Požar podmetnut u bojama.Eksplozije apstrakcije u mrtvim prirodama.
Catherine Howe, Night Painting (Whiskey) , 2009–11, oil, beeswax, and metal leaf on linen, 43 × 52 inches.
During the 1990s, Catherine Howe and I were painters in the same
downtown studio building at the edge of the West Side Highway and
frequent visitors to each other’s work space. I don’t have a great
memory, but I do have total recall of a day in ’94 when I walked into
her studio and saw Gothic, a portrait of a black woman that
Howe confirmed was ”an appropriated 19th-century painting of a Moroccan
slave woman, which I put into an abstract context.” This unknown woman,
portrayed with an aristocratic posture and demeanor, somewhat evoking
the style of John Singer Sargent, was imbued with great self-possession,
posed with a book, and comfortable in her own skin. “Gothic’s
self-contained gaze stared right back at me,” Catherine recalled,
identifying the painting as “a watershed moment.” I remember thinking,
Now I know what’s going to happen with figurative painting.
Gothic, 1994, oil on linen, 40×30 inches. Images courtesy of the artist and Von Lintel Gallery, New York.
Fast forward to Howe’s 2012 show at Von Lintel Gallery, in which she
expands upon her latest, highly personal approach to still life
painting. These expressive and vibrant canvases borrow, as does her
previous work, 19th-century techniques in terms of brushstrokes and
virtuosity while taking as their subject a genre from even earlier
periods—and one that historically comes with plenty of painterly rules
and symbolism. Howe responds to this rich history with bold and
exuberant gestural delight and metaphorical opulence—bisected female
body parts, animals, fruits, and vegetation. All elements, including the
transparent vessels, appear to be glowing from within, with an almost
explosive potential, while contours and edges are blurred, obscuring the
individual forms and swirling and melting them into one seemingly
viscous ensemble. There’s an enchanting messiness and a sophisticated
haze to these compositions, which liberates them from the allegorical
weight and figurative precision traditionally associated with the genre.
Howe speaks about these works as “emerging spontaneously from my
gestures. I let go of overt references to the female body, and the body
in the painting becomes mine. The figurative aspect becomes more veiled
and I encourage forms to come out of my imagination.”
Catherine Howe, Proserpina (Frenchie) , 2012, oil and beeswax on linen, 40 × 30 inches.
My initial response was not appreciative of Catherine’s new
paintings. I don’t know why I get disappointed when artists change their
work—I myself now focus on textiles with the same intensity as I had
brought to painting—but it takes me a while to process. Yet after
looking closely at the new paintings, I recognized the same sensual
tactility as in the older figuration in addition to a new painterly
freedom. Catherine‘s artistic leap makes me think of Philip Guston, who,
in the late ’60s, rejected abstraction to explore a return to
representational imagery. Coming from provocative feminist figuration,
Catherine Howe is now reinvigorating the still life with an
efflorescence that borders on decadence, while employing the gusto of
abstraction, all the while revealing an expertise that grounds these
paintings in the essentials of craft. In the artist’s own words: “My
yearning for the heroic gesture will be mitigated by an inevitable
doubt, while I fully engage in a swooning, painterly perfection.”— Madeline Weinrib