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The Limits  of  Seeing Katie Brennan Katherine Pickering An exhibition at the Lake Country Art Gallery October 12 to November 9, 2012


Curatorial  Statement

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rtists  have  always  responded  to  their  environment,  recording  it,  studying  it  and  using  it   as  an  imaginative  springboard  into  the  unknown.  Art  in  any  epoch  or  culture  has  meshed   with  the  rest  of  life,  in  social,  spiritual,  political  and  economic  ways.  It  has  also  used  available   technology  to  its  advantage.  Ever  since  paleolithic  cave  dwellers  experimented  with  charcoal,   ochre  and  animal  fat,  artists  throughout  history  have  been  trying  out  new  tools.  The  age  of   information  and  technology  we  now  live  in  provides  a  seemingly  endless  array  of  helpful  tools   for  contemporary  artists.   Thus  we  have  Katie  Brennan  pointing  a  camera  up  at  clouds,  or  pulling  her  car  off  the  busy   highway  to  aim  her  cell  phone  at  the  light  patterns  on  the  Bow  River.  And  Katherine  Pickering   SURZOLQJDURXQGLQGDUNSODFHVZLWKDFDPHUDDQGDÀDVKOLJKWRUPLQHUœVODPSUHVHDUFKLQJWKH limits  of  seeing  by  its  light.  Contemporary  painters  use  google,  facebook,  photoshop,  cameras,   data  projectors  and  other  technological  innovations  as  easily  as  pencils  and  paint  brushes.   ,Q.DWLH%UHQQDQœVZRUNERWKHQGVRIWKHVSHFWUXPDUHLQSOD\WKHWUDGLWLRQDODQGWKHWHFKQL-­ cal.  A  painting  practice  that  began  with  non-­objective  linear  abstractions  that  came  straight   from  her  imagination  shifted  into  a  series  of  works  based  on  corporate  car  logos  while  she  was   pursuing  her  MFA  at  the  University  of  Guelph  in  Ontario.  The  realization  that  she  could  paint   and  draw  from  existing  forms,  with  the  aid  of  technological  tools  like  data  projectors,  opened   QHZDYHQXHVIRUKHU:KHQVKHUHWXUQHGWRWKH2NDQDJDQWKHUHZDVDQHZIRXQGFRQ¿GHQFH ZKLFKVRRQKDGKHUSKRWRJUDSKLQJFORXGVDQGH[SHULPHQWLQJZLWKSRROVRIÀXLGSDLQW On  her  way  to  a  self-­guided  art  residency  at  the  Banff  Centre  in  Alberta  in  the  summer  of   2011,  where  she  intended  to  continue  with  the  cloud  paintings  that  she  had  been  making,   the  stunning  glacial  blue  of  the  Bow  River  caught  her  eye.  The  more  she  watched  and  photo-­ graphed  the  movement  of  water  and  the  light  dancing  across  its  surface,  the  more  she  was   entranced  by  it.  Her  senses  became  newly  attuned  to  natural  forms,    and  by  the  time  she  got   to  Banff  she  was  also  captivated  by  the  rhythm  of  tectonic  lines  in  the  mountains  around  her.   In  a  recent  discussion  of  landscape  painting  Brennan  stated  that  while  she  loved  being  in  the   ODQGVFDSHVKHDOVRKDGDGHHSDI¿QLW\IRUDEVWUDFWLRQDQGLWLVWKLVDI¿QLW\WKDWJHQHUDOO\ guides  her  work.  Her  current  series  of  water  paintings  show  us  her  connection  to  both  kinds   of  art.  One  can  stand  before  these  images  and  look  deep  into  a  watery  pool,  and  then  shift   perception  and  veer  off  from  one  twisting  abstract  blue  form  to  another,  pulled  along  by  the   waters  and  pools  of  paint. .DWKHULQH3LFNHULQJœVEULHIKLVWRU\RISDLQWLQJWKHODQGVFDSHVDURXQGKHUIDPLO\KRPHVRRQ QDUURZHGWRDIRFXVRQOHVVHDVLO\LGHQWL¿DEOHIRUPV+HUZRUNLQKHU%)$H[KLELWLRQDWWKH8QL-­ YHUVLW\RI%ULWLVK&ROXPELDœV2NDQDJDQFDPSXVFRPSOHWHGLQIRXQGDZRUNDEOHEDODQFH 2


between  traditional  landscape  forms  and  abstract  expressionist  painting,  and  her  present  work   maintains   this   balance   in   new   ways.   Her   growing   interest   in   visual   perception,   on   which   she   based  her  MFA  thesis  work  at  Concordia  University  in  Montreal,  incorporated  a  wide  range  of   experiences   including   caving   in   New   Zealand,   camping   in   a   desert   in   India   and   photograph-­ ing  forms  seen  at  night  at  the  edges  of  pools  of  light.  A  recent  experience  of  sitting  at  night   in  a  completely  dark  part  of  her  home  with  her  eyes  wide  open,  with  no  perception  of  depth;Íž   the  darkness,  a  palpable  thing  so  very  close  to  her,  taught  her  much  about  how  we  see.  The   understanding  Katherine  gained  from  such  experiences  informed  her  paintings  as  much  as  the   colours,  textures  and  shapes  seen  at  night  or  underground.   3LFNHULQJÂśVORYHRIWKHPDWHULDOLW\RISDLQWOHGKHUSDVWEUXVKLQJRQVKDSHVWRSRXULQJDQGGULS-­ ping  them  across  her  canvases;Íž  her  methods  of  painting  continue  to  grow,  as  can  be  seen  in   WKHVHUHFHQWZRUNV7KHFDYHRSHQLQJVGHVFULEHGE\3LFNHULQJDVÂľKHDGOLNHVKDSHVÂśKDYHEH-­ come  even  more  human  like  in  some  of  the  work  exhibited  here.  Yet  her  interests  lie  more  in   abstraction  than  in  making  portraits  or  underground  landscape  paintings.  As  she  once  said  in   a  lecture, Â â€œâ€Śwhat  I  was  exploring  about  darkness  was  about  limited  vision,  and  also  about  a   heightened  sense  of  imagination‌â€?    Her  heightened  imagination  is  as  evident  as  ever  in  these   recent  works.   3LFNHULQJ JUHZ XS ZLWK DQ LQWHUHVW LQ VFLHQFH ÂżFWLRQ YLD /XFDVÂś 6WDU :DUV DQG *HQH 5RGGHQ-­ EHUU\ÂśV6WDU7UHNZKLFKOHGWRDGLVFRYHU\RIHDUOLHUVFLÂżZULWHUVVXFKDV+*:HOOVZKRRIWHQ wrote  about  underground  realms.  The  discovery  of  these  stories  tied  in  nicely  with  her  interests   in  caves  and  also  made  for  her  a  link  with  her  childhood  fascination  with  space.  She  became  in-­ terested  in  creating  images  that  simultaneously  spoke  of  subterranean  worlds  and  outer  space,   WZRLQĂ€XHQFHVWKDWFRQWLQXHWRDIIHFWWKHSUHVHQWSDLQWLQJV+HUJHQWO\LQFOLQHGKHDGVGRLQGHHG seem  to  be  dreaming  of  deep  caverns  and  endless  space.     'HVSLWHWKHFRQWUDVWVEHWZHHQ.DWLH%UHQQDQÂśVZDWHU\VXUIDFHVDQG.DWKHULQH3LFNHULQJÂśVRWK-­ erworldly  realms,  an  easy  compatibility  exists  between  the  two  bodies  of  work.  Perhaps  this  is   due  to  their  common  interests  in  our  perceptions  of  nature  as  well  as  their  shared  techniques,   and  in  their  abilities  to  use  new  technologies  hand-­in-­hand  with  traditional  painting  processes.   7KHF\EHUQHWLFDJHLVXSRQXVDQGIRU%UHQQDQÂśVDQG3LFNHULQJÂśVJHQHUDWLRQLWLVWKHLUQDWXUDO environment.   Thus   the   very   nature   of   their   work,   while   it   owes   much   to   the   earlier   painters,   stands  apart.         Jim  Kalnin   *XHVW&XUDWRU/DNH&RXQWU\$UW*DOOHU\

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“He  makes  every  morning  a  study  of  what  he  sees.� )UHQFKFULWLF7KHRSKLOH7KRUHGHVFULELQJWKHPDULQHSDLQWLQJVRI*XVWDYH&RXUEHWLQ1

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KHQRWLRQRIWKHDUWLVWDVUHVHDUFKHURIWKHYLVLEOHZRUOGLVDWOHDVWDVROGDV/HRQDUGR'D-­ Vinci.  Before  the  mass  accumulation  of  knowledge  in  the  Modern  era  necessitated  intensive   GLVFLSOLQDU\VSHFLDOL]DWLRQWKHVHDUWLVWLFLQYHVWLJDWLRQVZHUHFRQGXFWHGDVÂłVFLHQFH´OLNHĂ€DQHX-­ ULHDQGDOFKHP\7KLVWUDGLWLRQRIDUWPDNLQJDVUHVHDUFKKDVIRXQGLWÂśVQDWXUDOKRPHZLWKLQWKH contemporary   university.   Although   the   process   and   results   of   these   artistic   investigations   are   generally    (and  necessarily)  more  idiosyncratic  than  the  ones  conducted  in  the  natural  science   wings,  they  are  just  as  rigorously  and  passionately  pursued.  They  also  tend  to  incorporate  a  less   imperial  understanding  of  “truthâ€?,  favoring  instead  an  experiential  subjectivity  because  the  truth   that  an  artist  seeks,  more  often  than  not,  is  the  hidden  beauty  buried  in  such  experiences.  In   this  quest  for  the  beautiful,  artists  have  made  use  of  every  available  technological  means.  In  the   DSSOLFDWLRQRIWKHVHDSSDUDWXVHVWKHOLPLWVRIWKHLUYLVLRQDUHRQO\FRQÂżQHGE\WKHOLPLWVRIWKHLU imagination.  The  paintings  of  Katie  Brennan  and  Katherine  Pickering  both  follow  this  tradition  of   researching  the  nature  of  the  beautiful.  They  do  so  by  uncovering  beauty  in  the  natural.  For  both   of  these  artists,  the  central  aesthetic  act  is  one  of  revealing  ephemeral  visual  phenomena  that   DUHMXVWRXWVLGHRXUQRUPDOH[SHULHQFHRIWKHZRUOGTXLHWWLSWRHVEH\RQGWKHOLPLWVRIVHHLQJ The  paintings  of  Katherine  Pickering  are  idiosyncratic  investigations  into  our  perception  of  dark-­ QHVV%DVHGXSRQSKRWRJUDSKLFLPDJHVRIWKHLOOXPLQDQWUDGLXVRIDĂ€DVKOLJKWVKHWUDQVIRUPV these  light  forms  into  eccentric,  abstract  motifs.  These  initial  photographs,  however,  are  used   less   as   a   traditional,   representational   “source   imageâ€?,   and   more   as   a   springboard   towards   a   sprawling,  painterly  exfoliation.  These  works  draw  upon  all  of  the  metaphoric  potentialities  that   H[LVWLQWKLVQRFWXUQDOLPDJLQDWLYHVSDFHRIGUHDPVDQGQLJKWPDUHVIDQWDVLHVDQGIDLU\WDOHV In  her  most  recent  series  of  paintings,  Pickering  has  drawn  out  the  anthropomorphic  quality  of   WKHVH OLJKW IRUPDWLRQV FUHDWLQJ SRUWUDLW OLNH DEVWUDFWLRQV OLJKW IRUPV EHFRPH OLIH IRUPV /LNH 5RUVFKDFK7HVWVRUVKDSHVLQFORXGV3LFNHULQJÂśVVKURXGOLNHYHLOVRIZDVK\VPHDU\KXHVVXP-­ mon  our  human  desire  to  make  pictures  of  things,  creating  complex  spaces  of  malleable  deter-­ minacy.  Twentieth  century  abstraction  brought  with  it  a  giant  array  of  painters  who  explored  our   perception  of  light  and  colour.  Artists  such  as  Bridget  Riley  and  Guido  Molinari  investigated  the   SK\VLRORJLFDODSSDUDWXVRIKRZZHVHH3LFNHULQJÂśVZRUNVDUHPRUHFRQFHUQHGZLWKWKHSV\FKR-­ ORJLFDOSRWHQWLDOWKDWH[LVWVLQWKLVWUDQVIHUWKHLPDJLQDWLYHEODQNVWKDWRXUPLQGVÂżOOLQDVZH fumble  through  darkness,  fantastic  projections  beyond  the  threshold  of  our  vision.

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7KHUHLVDSV\FKRORJLFDOFRPSRQHQWWR.DWLH%UHQQDQœVSDLQWLQJVDVZHOODQGWKH\DUHOLNHZLVH concerned  with   a   personalized   research   into   a   naturally   occurring,   ephemeral   opticality   -­   the   VKLPPHULQJUHÀHFWLRQDQGDEVRUSWLRQRIOLJKWXSRQDQGLQWRPRYLQJZDWHU%DVHGXSRQGLJLWDO photographs   taken   by   the   artist   with   her   cell   phone,   these   paintings   evoke   a   deep   history   of  


SDLQWLQJVRIZDWHU7KLVLVDKLVWRU\ZLWKDVWURQJDIÂżOLDWLRQWRKLVWRULFDOSKRWRJUDSK\DVZHOO as  one  of  the  early  technical  holy  grails  in  that  emergent  medium  was  the  ability  to  document   PRYLQJZDWHUWRFDSWXUHDQLQVWDQWRILWVPRYHPHQWZLWKSRHWU\DQGÂżGHOLW\*XVWDYH&RXUEHW SDLQWHUDQGDYLGSKRWRJUDSKHUZDVRQHRIWKHÂżUVWSDLQWHUVWRGUDZXSRQSKRWRJUDSKLFVRXUFHV to  impressive  effect  in  his  marine  paintings,  such  as  “Waveâ€?  of  1870  (a  title  which  clearly  mir-­ rors  another  famous  art  historical  depiction  of  moving  water.)  But  unlike  the  romantic  tumult  of   &RXUEHWÂśVVXEOLPHVHDV%UHQQDQÂśVSDLQWLQJVHOLFLWWKHFDOPLQJVHGDWLRQRIPRYLQJZDWHUVUK\WK-­ PLFK\SQRVLV%XWLWLVLQKHUKDQGOLQJRIZDWHUVRSXOHQWWUDQVSDUHQF\WKDW%UHQQDQÂśVSDLQWLQJV really  steer  away  from  historical  landscape  painting,  where  water  is  treated,  more  or  less,  as  an   RSDTXHÂżHOGRILQWHUORFNLQJFRORXU,Q%UHQQDQÂśVSDLQWLQJVZDWHULVDYHLOWKURXJKZKLFKZHVHH glimpses  of  an  expansive  landscape  beneath  its  multicoloured  skin.  It  is  important  that  these   paintings  are  rendered  in  gouache  as  well,  a  medium  that  is  water-­based.  Gouache  can  be  ap-­ SOLHGWRDSSHDUWKLFNDQGRSDTXHRUWKLQQHGWRDSSHDUOLNHZDWHUFRORXUZLWKWKHDGGHGEHQHÂżW WKDWWKHFRORXULVQRWUHDFWLYDWHGRQFHGU\7KLVDOORZIRU%UHQQDQÂśVGHHSOD\HULQJRIWUDQVOXFHQ-­ FLHVZKLOHDYRLGLQJWKHJRRS\ORRNLQJSODVWLFLW\WKDWÂśVW\SLFDOO\IRXQGLQDFU\OLFSDLQW7KHUHVXO-­ tant  works  are  freeze  frames  into  a  speculative  world  of  perpetual  motion  rendered  in  dazzling   hue  -­  lying  just  beneath  the  threshold  of  our  immediate  visibility.   Churchill,  Manitoba  is  a  town  of  923  people  2  LQWKHWXQGUDRI+XGVRQÂśV%D\ÂśVZHVWHUQVKRUH,W is  affectionately  known  as  the  “Polar  Bear  Capital  of  the  Worldâ€?  3,QDLQWHUYLHZ$PHULFDQ painter   Barnett   Newman   famously   claimed   that   he   “would   prefer   going   to   Churchill,   Canada   to  walk  the  tundra  than  go  to  Paris.â€?   4  Newman  sought  through  his  work  to  create  vast  optical   ÂżHOGVWKDWHYRNHGWKHH[SDQVLYHVXEOLPLW\RIWKHQDWXUDOZRUOG$OWKRXJKKHQHYHUDFWXDOO\ZHQW to  Churchill,  Manitoba,  he  did  spend  the  summer  of  1959  leading  a  famous  workshop  in  Emma   /DNH6DVNDWFKHZDQ1HZPDQZDVDGHÂżQLWLYHDEVWUDFWSDLQWHU\HWKLVSUDLULHSLOJULPDJHZDV primary  research  into  the  natural  phenomena  that  inspired  his  work.  The  overwhelming  gran-­ deur  of  the  Canadian  north  was  something  for  Newman  to  take  in,  something  to  be  immersed  in,   WRH[SHULHQFHWROLYHMXVWOLNHKHZDQWHGKLVSDLQWLQJVWRGRWRWKHYLHZHU$ORWRISDUDOOHOVFRXOG EHGUDZQEHWZHHQ1HZPDQÂśVPRGHORIUHVHDUFKDQGWKHRQHVXVHGE\.DWKHULQH3LFNHULQJDQG .DWLH%UHQQDQ/LNH1HZPDQWKHLUSDLQWLQJVDUHÂżFWLRQVEDVHGRQDWUXHVWRU\,QWKHLUZRUN the   occurrence   of   natural   phenomena   is   evoked   without   being   represented,   conjured   without   being  mimicked,  allowing  for  gaps,  slippage  and  intuitive  understandings  to  emerge.  The  paint-­ ings  of  Katherine  Pickering  and  Katie  Brennan  are  primary  research  into  the  edge  of  experience   –  generous  extrapolations  beyond  what  we  can  imperially  observe  toward  spaces  we  can  never   too  abundantly  imagine.   1.  ,WLVTXRWHGKHUHIURPSDJHRI'RPLQLTXHGH)RQW5pDXO[ÂśVSDSHUÂł3DUDOOHO/LQHV*XVWDYH&RXUEHWÂśVÂł3D\VDJHVGHV0HUVDQG *XVWDYH/H*UD\ÂśV6HDVFDSHVÂą´SUHVHQWHGDWWKH6\PSRVLXPÂł/RRNLQJDW/DQGVFDSH&RXUEHWDQG0RGHUQLVP´WKH- 3DXO*HWW\0XVHXP0DUFK,ZDVQÂśWWKHUHRUDQ\WKLQJEXW,IRXQGLWRQWKHLQWHUQHWDWKWWSZZZJHWW\HGXPXVHXP V\PSRVLDSGIVBFRXUEHWFRXUEHWBIRQWBUHDXO[SGI   $FFRUGLQJWRWKH&DQDGD&HQVXV 3.  According  to  Wikipedia‌. )URPÂł)URQWLHUVRI6SDFH´LQWHUYLHZE\'RURWK\*HHV6SHFNOHU$UWLQ$PHULFD6XPPHU,WLVTXRWHGKHUHIURPÂł%DUQHWW 1HZPDQ6HOHFWHG:ULWLQJVDQG,QWHUYLHZV´-RKQ3DXO2ÂśQHLOHGLWRU8QLYHUVLW\RI&DOLIRUQLD3UHVV%HUNOH\SDJH

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Katie  Brennan,  Off  in  Deep  Pools  of  Ether,  She  CrumblesJRXDFKHRQFDQYDV´[´


Katie  Brennan,  In  the  Wake  of  Your  Footprints  (you  see  it  too)JRDXFKHRQFDQYDV´[´

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Katie  Brennan,  In  an  Icy  CavernJRDXFKHRQFDQYDV´[´


Katie  Brennan,  A  spotted  cat  kind  of  day,  JaguarJRDXFKHRQFDQYDV´[´

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Katie Brennan,  The  Love  Affair  That  Never  Was,  gouache  on  canvas,  54”x72”,  2012

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Katie  Brennan,  The  Ripples  Can  Only  Go  On  So  LongJRXDFKHRQFDQYDV´[´

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Katie  Brennan,  Dusty  Roses  &  Russian  TeaJRXDFKHRQFDQYDV´[´


Katherine Pickering,  The  Ice  Sphinx,  oil  on  canvas,  30”x32”,  2009

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Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (Head-­Like  Shape  #1),  RLORQFDQYDV´[´


Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (Head-­Like  Shape  #2),  RLORQFDQYDV´[´

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Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (Head-­Like  Shape  #3),  DFU\OLF RLORQFDQYDV´[´


Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (Head-­Like  Shape  #4),  acrylic  &  RLORQFDQYDV´[´

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Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (Head-­Like  Shape  #5),  DFU\OLF RLORQFDQYDV´[´


Katherine  Pickering,  Untitled  (An  Opening  in  the  Clouds  #1),RLORQFDQYDV´[´

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7KH0LVVLRQRIWKH/DNH&RXQWU\$UW*DOOHU\LV  To  celebrate  art  as  an  essential  part  of  the  human     experience,  enhancing  our  community  through  art     and  art  experiences.

7KH/DNH&RXQWU\$UW*DOOHU\JUDWHIXOO\DFNQRZOHGJHVWKH¿QDQFLDO DVVLVWDQFHRIWKH'LVWULFWRI/DNH&RXQWU\WKH&HQWUDO2NDQDJDQ Foundation,  BC  Arts  Council,  and  the  United  Way.

‹/DNH&RXQWU\$UW*DOOHU\  $%RWWRP:RRG/DNH5G   /DNH&RXQWU\%&997 www.lakecountryartgallery.ca 20

 Designed  by  Shauna  Oddleifson Printed  by  UBR  Services   Photos  courtesy  of  the  artists

Profile for Lake Country Art Gallery

Limits of Seeing- Katie Brennan & Katherine Pickering  

The exhibition catalogue for "Limits of Seeing - Katie Brennan & Katherine Pickering" presented at the Lake Country Art Gallery, in Lake Cou...

Limits of Seeing- Katie Brennan & Katherine Pickering  

The exhibition catalogue for "Limits of Seeing - Katie Brennan & Katherine Pickering" presented at the Lake Country Art Gallery, in Lake Cou...

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