There are certain idioms of 20th-century art that have proved to be remarkably fertile and
lushness of Hawaii, which offers up the drama of sky, water, and rainforest. She has trained her
resilient territory for younger artists right up through the present. One is geometric abstraction,
eye through plein-air painting, the time-honored practice established by the Barbizon School and
as pioneered by Constructivist and Bauhaus artists nearly 100 years and developed by
Impressionist artists, and working out of doors in the French landscape taught her much about color
Piet Mondrian and Josef Albers and later the adherents of Minimalism. Another is Abstract
and the importance of its placement in relation to other hues.
Expressionism, the unabashedly spontaneous and often lyrical impulse that marked a definitive
American style and the first great break with European traditions in the late 1940s.
chromatic approach, based in industrial and commercial materials, of many of her peers. But she’s
not immune to the other possibilities of our high-tech era and uses the computer as a kind of design
It is to the latter tradition that Portland-based artist Silve belongs, and in the last two years she
Silve’s color choices, indeed, all seem rooted in the natural world—she eschews the high-keyed
has found fresh and exuberant life in an approach many may have considered played-out. Like her
tool. After starting a painting, she will sometimes take a photo and feed it into the machine.
famous progenitors—Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, and Joan Mitchell—Silve depends on a
Manipulations of the canvas on the screen give her an idea of where to go next; it’s a process
certain degree of spontaneity, the impact of the immediate gesture, to draw viewers into her
that’s analogous to reworking a painting through scraping off pigment or turning to sketches to
paintings. To paraphrase the great New York School critic Harold Rosenberg, What goes into the
realize a finished composition (if you look closely, you may discern a faint grid that helps her with
canvas is not a picture but an event. In Silve’s case, it is the act of remembering landscapes, music,
organization and the pulls the components together). The miracle of that process is that there’s no
or even a particular friend. She brings her whole body to the task of painting, as Pollock did, feeling
sacrifice in spontaneity—though Silve may spend months on a painting, its energies still seem as
the energy running through her system and imparting a sense of corporeal presence and gesture to
fresh as if it were tossed off in a day.
paint and canvas. Significantly, many of her works are human-scaled—sometimes the same height
as the viewer—so that we relate to these works with our own bodies and enter into the painter’s
the past—there are echoes of Monet and van Gogh here, as well as her more immediate
dialogue with her materials.
predecessors—and to note her growth away from a dependence on recognizable subject matter.
She seems to be moving into a realm of pure abstraction, and at this juncture in time, the
Silve has spoken about the influence of music on her work, and indeed in the past
dedicated a series to musicians, particularly cellists, since that’s an instrument that speaks to her
One of the great pleasures for this critic is to see both how Silve’s art relates to the art of
possibilities appear to be boundless.
profoundly. But more important for her most recent paintings—which show a huge leap in assurance and innovation—has been the impact of landscape, whether it’s the breathtaking natural terrain around her home (a scenic bonanza that includes Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge); the gentler territory of Provence, where she frequently spends a few summer months; or the tropical
K.Silve ©Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.
Ann Landi Freelance journalist, Contributing Editor, ARTnews. Also published articles on art and architecture, reviews, and criticism in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, Art & Antiques, and other publications.
Market XXXXII, 68” x 58” Acrylic on Canvas Permanent Collection of the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico
Sanctuary II, 40” x 120” Acrylic on Canvas
Love Affair, 46” x 42” Acrylic on Canvas Private Collection
Attraction, 26” x 20” Acrylic on Paper
Amorphous, 30” x 22” Acrylic on Paper
Morning Energy, 30” x 22” Acrylic on Paper
Attraction II, 30” x 22” Acrylic on Paper
Morning Walk, 26” x 20” Acrylic on Paper Private Collection
Market Place, 26” x 20” Acrylic on Paper Private Collection
Market XXI, 50” x 60” Acrylic on Canvas Private Collection
A Certain Nebulous, 50” x 84” Acrylic on Canvas
K Silve Walking Through, 68” x 58” Acrylic on Canvas
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Artwork by K Silve