Bio: Karin Davie, Seattle.
Titles of works: Beam Me Up no 1 and Small But Deadly (Parasite Painting) no 1.
Where to see them: Chart Gallery and Van Doren Waxter Gallery, New York, until June 30.
Three words to describe them: Irrepressible, psychedelic, paradoxical.
What was on your mind at the time: I’ve been working with a family of interrelated images that have a cosmic quality, playing with notions of opposites and seriality, but that aren’t traditionally serial in appearance.
I’ve always been interested in the double, diptychs, and expanding my repertoire with the language of the “shaped” canvas. In some of these new works, I use multiple panels and tracings from body parts (fingers, knees, elbows) to create shapes. These traced shapes are re-scaled and either cut out or added to literally extend or extract the side of the stretcher bars. It serves as the architecture for the painting, but I’m thinking very differently about how to ground the illusory image in the shaped format.
All the paintings are conceived and scaled in relation to the human body and slightly beyond, so that they’ll activate the viewer’s body and invite participation, but also challenge their sense of equilibrium. Formal “intrusions” such as splits, cut outs, or protrusions, upset and disturb the continuous flow and rhythm established by the illusory abstracted image. It’s about a desire for transformation, and an image of transformation, but perhaps one that’s momentarily interrupted.
An interesting feature that’s not immediately noticeable: There’s always been a tension in my work between what gets revealed and what gets concealed but it’s not always conscious. In general, various types of representations lurk within the work. As you continue looking, things begin to reveal themselves.
When you first encounter my paintings, you see an abstract image made from repeating but irregular wavy gestures. You also feel the movement of these gestures in your whole body mimetically. Then you start to notice clues embedded in the work that hint at different forms of representation. This paradox gives the work a visual complexity, pushing back against the viewer’s first impression, skewing their expectation for how the painting’s illusion is constructed.
How the work reflects your practice as a whole: I’m deeply involved in how the painting process, color and form with a capital “F” converge, especially when aspects are discordant, making things both literal and metaphorical at the same time. My process has always felt a bit like trying to get out of a very confined restricted space, reacting intuitively not knowing exactly where potential openings lie, but then finding out in actuality nothing is restricted or fixed, it’s an illusion, and that all parts are open and continuously shifting and moving.
One song that captures the works’ essence: I’m not sure I can reduce things down to one song, so in keeping with my interest in repetition, energy, dissonance, and the space between things, I’ve chosen two: Kaki King’s “The Surface Changes”, and “To Here Knows When” by My Bloody Valentine.