KATHERINE LAKEMAN: IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE
Exhibition Curator: Jacek Malec, Art Forum Gallery
The exhibition “Katherine Lakeman: It’s Not Just Black and White” has been co-organized by Art Forum Gallery.
An Etude In Colour: Abstract Paintings by Katherine Lakeman
In the recent critical writings about the state of contemporary art and, contemporary painting in particular, several art critics and art historians have declared the demise of abstract painting, considering abstraction as the exhausted offshoot of an outdated modernist tradition. Indeed, after its hay-days from the 1940s to the early 1980s, abstract art had been placed for a short period of time on the back burner, giving the stage to a revived figurative and representational art in North America and in Europe. Today, we observe a ‘renaissance’ of abstract art and resurgence of abstract ideas, offering a new formal and conceptual vocabulary through the bold, new face of pure abstraction.
In Western Canada, this revival is notable in the paintings by new and old practitioners representing abstract art’s current vitality and experimentation: in Calgary – Seka Owen, Helena Hadala, Errol Lee Fullen, Mark Mullin, Mark Dicey, John Eisler, Conrad Ouchi; in Edmonton: Douglas Haynes, Graham Peacock, Robert Scott, David Cantine, Philip Darrah, Mitchel Smith; in Medicine Hat – Clay Ellis; in Saskatoon – William Perehudoff, Robert Christie, Marie Lanoo, Jonathan Forrest; in Vernon – Bryan Ryley; and in Vancouver – Camrose Ducote. This ‘renaissance’ of abstract art, particularly in the works by Alberta-based artists could not have happened without the solid base and position abstract art had previously enjoyed from the 1960’s to early 1980s in Calgary and, especially, in Edmonton, and through the support of their respective arts and academic institutions.
The Sound of Colour
For over 25 years, Katherine Lakeman has dedicated her studio practice to exploration of several aspects pertinent to semi-representational art based on nature and, for the past five years, to addressing issues of abstraction in painting and in mixed media, especially the ones oscillating around inter-relations between music and abstract art.
Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Katherine Lakeman has studied Art & Design at the University of Guelph in 1973, followed by her academic studies at the University of Calgary, where she graduated with Bachelor’s Degree in Education (Music) in 1978. Lakeman’s vast interest in music education has led her to assume the post as an art and music specialist with Calgary Board of Education. She also participated in the seminal Emma Lake visual arts workshops in northern Saskatchewan and at other arts institutions in western Canada, followed by the international residences in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and in Assisi, Italy. Over the years, Lakeman has organized and conducted several art workshops to many Calgary artists in San Miguel de Allende. These workshops, residences, and the visits to leading art musea of contemporary art provided her with a stimulating international context from which to view her own work.The exhibition “Katherine Lakeman: It’s Not Just Black and White” highlights the artist’s radical departure from the semi-representational idiom and celebrates her recent contributions to contemporary artistic production with emphasis on creative process, systemic abstraction that produces autonomous visual structures, and the examination of autonomous language in painting. Lakeman’s work in this exhibition addresses issues of representation and contemporary approaches to abstraction and further explores the visual and sensory relationships of pictorial elements and structures, and their visual synthesis. The artist also discusses – through her body of abstract work – inter-relations between music and abstract art. Visual art, as it turns more abstract – becomes more like music: an art form which uses the abstract elements of sound and divisions of time.
Lakeman’s works selected for this exhibition resonate with the ‘sound of colour’. The artist employs a subtle approach, inviting the viewer to linger and experience the effect of silence and sound through colour and space. Without “transcribing” music, Lakeman – who is also a talented pianist – invites the spectator to adapt musical elements such as ‘tonality/atonality’, ‘harmony’, ‘dissonance’, ‘rhythm’, ‘serialism’, or ‘counter-point’, as a way of interpreting the critical colour vocabulary in her body of work.
“Out of the Woods” and “It’s Not Just Black and White” reflect the changes to the moods of nature and the intensity of the colouristic palette of the objects. The prevailing motif of ‘abstracted trees’, accentuated by the choice of colour and animated by the impasto strokes, allows Lakeman to create the ‘musical pattern’ of time and rhythm. In her final compositional and formal effort, Lakeman was able to push the repeating elements of ‘abstracted trees’ against melody and counter-melody of her chosen colour to validate the high standards of musical quality: the richness of inter-connectedness, articulation and unity in diversity.
“Suite in White and Blue”, “Goodbye Sadness, Hello Coltrane”, “Round Midnight (for Miles Davis)” and “Jazzy 103.com” resonate with Cecil Taylor’s, Evan Parker’s, Anthony Braxton’s, John Coltrane’s and Miles Davis’s free-jazz improvisations. Their dissonance-based compositions with over-blowing sections have been recorded by Lakeman through energetic gestural marks accentuated by thick impasto strokes.
“I Get a Kick”, “Argentine Tango” and “Sounds of the Carnival” resonate with exceptional intensity of colour and a dynamic nature of the compositions. In these works, Lakeman orchestrates an animated conversation between colour, motion and music with the multidirectional impasto strokes clustering into the groups, but without resorting to the dominance of a centralized melodic idea.
Looking at the nature and character of Katherine Lakeman’s works selected for this exhibition, one may notice the artist’s effort to communicate through a visual process with the power, beauty and unifying force of music as a continued and ultimate inspiration. In her works, the artist has aimed to elicit a contemplative mood in the viewer through a connection with sound and colour. Like many proponents of inter-relations between music and abstract art before her, Katherine Lakeman has reached a consensus in music offering a model for the work of art as an autonomous organism that stands beside Nature on equal terms and, in its deepest and innermost essence, is devoid of any connection with it.
Jacek Malec Exhibition Curator
Jacek Malec is a Calgary-based art historian, critic, lecturer and an accomplished curator of several exhibitions related to contemporary Canadian and international visual arts, architecture and design. From 1997 to 2013 Malec served as the Director/Curator at the Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts and at the Museum of Contemporary Art Calgary (MOCA Calgary). Since October 2013, he has been working as a Chief Curator of Art Forum Gallery, a Calgary-based alternative public art gallery/international curatorial consultancy.
KATHERINE LAKEMAN: IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE
List of the Artwork