19 January – 3 March 2001
American artist Karin Davie makes richly-coloured abstract paintings that reference the forms of the human body, and the performative act of painting itself. The works consist of horizontal swathes of bright, lurid colours that seem compressed by the density of their application. Davie’s work constitutes a form of Abstract Expressionist action painting, reworked through 1970s performance art.
The artist works on an enormous number of ‘automative’ drawings, made with no specific end in mind, in which she ‘finds’ the images for her larger-scale paintings. These paintings seem to trace a kind of choreography (referencing the gestural work of Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning), trails of paint running unbroken across the picture plane. Although Davie employs the formal modernist trope of the stripe, her work is highly sensual and evokes a kind of abstracted corporeality, the free-moving paint-brush tracing the path of the artist’s own body moving left and right, in the act of filling the canvas. The immediacy and speed of this dynamic creates swells and drips in the stripes that disrupt the painting’s potentially uniform geometry.
Davie chooses to destroy most of her paintings at an early stage, saving only the few that possess the right direct, phenomenological presence. She describes her paintings as ‘Jack in the Boxes,’ as they have a compressed energy that seems hardly contained by the limits of the picture plane. ‘I am interested in the collision between abstraction and representation’, Davie explains, between ‘the desire to conceal and reveal at the same time.’