Friends of Gaya
Gaya Ceramic

Sanctum Shifting
Hillary Kane
May 9th - June 9th, 2009
A Solo Exhibition by Hillary Kane

Sanctum Shifting: a dialogue in layers

?I see my artwork as a journey in which the process, the very visceral act of creating, is as significant as the final outcome?? (hk)

Hillary Kane describes Sanctum Shifting, the theme of this exhibition, as a conversation about the simultaneous choreography of creation and destruction. In this body of work, a fa?ade of paint or clay cracks, warps, gives way, and in doing so, reveals a tender under layer, a hidden cameo, an evidence to the passage of time... the work itself comes to stand as a fa?ade: a posture of solidity in form or color, that then fractures along a fissure from some internal pressure?or is externally scarred, scratched, rubbed away and built up again. Through the rather ironic beauty in this process of deterioration?this dissimulation-- the depth of these patina can be perceived.

She writes in reference to the show title, ?the Sanctum is at once my own quiet, hallowed space of inner monologue and reflection on identity?the visual stories of who I am, my origins and journey, how I am perceived, defined and confined by the world, where my place is, nomad of no place, exiled in self-asylum, ever-moving? and then, Sanctum as the sacred spaces of this world, places of calm sanctuary shifting with the cumulous tensions of society, the tides of imminent disrupt? My commentary is a tactile and visible one: abstract, unspecified, readable, breathable, transmutable, full of the possibility of reference and nothing absolute.?

And so we find in her work? an exhibition featuring ceramic pieces and paintings, and the interesting interaction between the two mediums. Her large-format oils-on-canvas hover on the edge of abstraction, allowing subtle images to emerge from color fields with just enough likeness to suggest a reference to allegory or illusion. Titles provoke similar contemplation, prodding a reexamination of composition or detail, another angle of comprehension. The stories come through disembodied as if through mist, and we are left wondering at the myth unfolding either in our own minds, or before our very eyes.

At the same time, the canvases remain dedicated to the creative process of layered discovery, incorporating texture built up from a deft use of oil pigments, encaustic (melted wax), as well as in some cases, raw clay itself. Texture is employed in various degrees as an emphasis for the dexterous layering of color and form, until, in a trio of ?clay gestures?, texture predominates while color drops entirely away.

?I am interested in subtlety-- in the luminosity of a hundred delicate hues that come to pronounce one color only when taken in all together, like the transparence of skin-- of a surface built up slowly of many layers, textures and considerations-- in an idea that blends observation and intention with spontaneity and intuition.?

In a counterpoint, or correlation, the ceramic pieces echo a sensibility of build-up and break-down, and a tension between surface and subcutaneous stratum. The composition of the vessels, like the canvases, is one of repeating, minimalist, almost landscape-like line. The palette, likewise subdued. The interest arises in the arabesque of a graffiti-marred surface, in crevices and seams retouched in gilt as if the core were some sort of molten gold. And in the atypical inclusion of ?live? aspects: of moss and movement and raw unfired earth. We are struck first by form and scale, and then beseeched again to draw closer, to study deeply surface and what resides below, to examine and contemplate. And then to consider the curious coupling of clay and canvas.

?I have realized this (intimacy) only latently, and now watch, as if from a distance, the quiet, intense dialogue constantly unfurling between my paintings and my ceramic work.?

Suggestive, evocative, redolent, reminiscent, personal, her works are not the jargon and slogans of a political orator, who uses simple words and sensational terms to stifle conversation and foment fervent emotion. Instead, they are finely-distilled words, or images, of a solitary artist with a poetic brush. They do not dictate response, rather invoke the audience to dedicate its time, mind, and senses--to deliberate--and to immerse in the obscurely familiar ocean of visual metaphors.

She has spoken of the dialogue between the mediums she chooses, but likewise, finds great interest in the interface between viewer and object viewed. To her, ?? the collision of subject matter, medium, scale, presentation with the audience is of essence--the bodily observer plays a role in what the piece is ultimately all about. And that is again why process means so much to me?and lately, also the possibility of physical interaction with the viewer.?

She explores this possibility in an enigmatic installation piece, which, in her words, is designed to incite the participation of audience by way of physical trace: the literal footprint we leave on others? lives.

(Which), ??additionally, stands as an illustration of the sumptuous sensuality of clay, oozing between toes, the random pathways of process, and the role of time---as the clay goes from soft and malleable, to hard, cracking, dry, and then fired as a physical remnant, marker of a moment---, and finally, an totem of observation: when what isn?t suppose to happen happens??

For an artist who has journeyed at great length, from Africa to China, Central America to South East Asia, the US to the EU, the inevitable impact of these locations is, to the artist, implicitly interwoven. And yet, to the viewer, the mark of these influences is distant and lyrical?as understated and yet quietly evocative as her candid response to the perennial question of ?Why???..

?Why do I make art? Because there seems to be no escaping from it--it continues to surface and draw me in. I, the conduit, responding to the pieces visually and aesthetically as they reveal themselves ?or perhaps it is a simple searching for a way to bring all the layered sedimentation of compound thoughts out into the world. Maybe I just enjoy the process of working with my hands and creating a labyrinth that I then have to find my own way out of. Or because my fingers demand the activity. Because I don?t know how to stem the effusion. Because art is the only thing that makes me feel entirely directed in life?guiding me continually, and giving me a way in which I can bare and bear myself.?

― Hillary Kane

Gaya Art Space's front view
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