Kathryn Arnold (United States) is an artist working primarily with painting. By applying abstraction, Arnold formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works. Her work externalizes private processes of thought, highly subjective and unfiltered references to dream worlds. Her work urges us to renegotiate painting as being part of a reactive medium.
Arnold’s paintings feature coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections which make it possible to revise and complement art history. Combining unrelated aspects lead to surprising analogies. By experimenting with aleatoric processes, she creates intense personal moments masterfully created through rules and omissions, acceptance and refusal, luring the viewer into an internally comprehensible narrative through spaces, fields of color and interpretive markings. Space becomes intuitive aesthetic power.
Looking at these works, as a non-literal analogy, is a bit like looking at Google Earth, a satellite vision of our human life, environment and experience. Walk up close to one of these paintings – very close. The physical experience is a defining moment. Art critic Dewitt Cheng refers to them as “…ambiguously horizonless, scaleless vistas…”. These vistas capture deep visceral experiences – one imagines the human touch, kinetic sensation, chaotic energy – a building, a destruction, a complex, bewildering space – and, at the same time, warmth.
Kathryn Arnold’s works typically do not reference recognizable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. By rejecting objective truth and narratives, she creates a unique situation in which the viewer is confronted with the conditioning of his/her own perception and has to reconsider predisposed positioning.
What Kathryn Arnold’s paintings look like:
The colors in Arnold’s paintings are variously jewel-like or subtly muted; the paint’s texture varies: drawing the viewer in as a crescendo builds and then diminishes. In Kathryn Arnold’s own words, ” I allow for intense optical mixing as the layers build up on each other with the translucent effects integrating both on canvas and in the eye. I build up the surfaces with marks. As I work, I notice a sense of personality and emotive nature developing and pursue it. Poetic gestures reveal the diaphanous character of thoughts and associations (processes of mind) in substantial and solid form..”
- Raphael Rubenstein when writing on Kathryn’s work stated ” From Monet to Bonnard to Joan Mitchell, one of modern art’s most central traditions has been the color-rich painting that departs from the experience of landscape to travel the path to abstraction. Kathryn Arnold is clearly a vigorous inheritor of this tradition.”
- Dewitt Cheng states about Kathryn Arnold’s works ” These field paintings oscillate between records of time passed creating such dense interweavings - … her profusely patterned surfaces, cross-hatching set free from representation, ask the engaged viewer to bring into focus the layers of visual cues and create totality from parts…”