From Andrew Frost…
In the eternal battle between painting and photography it would seem that by sheer weight of numbers photography has the edge. But for all the things that photography can do, painting has a different kind of material presence, one that ensures that these related media can never really be the same thing.
In Kathryn Cowen’s Tall Tales And True, the artist has embarked on an expedition to the other side to mine a trove of personal, family and archival images as source material for her richly surfaced paintings. The paintings present images that are instantly recognisable as ‘photographic’ in their scale and flattened perspectives, yet Cowen brings a discerning sense of restraint in her translation, an act that adds the sorts of ambiguities that only painting can produce.
In Unknown Entity, Cowen sparing use of paint and ink on linen lets the canvas stand in for background while a running drip of yellow paint playfully addresses the line between abstraction and representation. A sequence of Cowen’s paintings bathe their central figures in an infinitude of painterly space: The World Beneath and The Intergalactic Pancake Express cast their characters adrift in a rich blue-black spattered with white dots. Stargazer, perhaps the hero picture of the show, is unashamedly nostalgic, a poster child for the artist’s mix of here and there.
October 9 to November 2
A-M Gallery, Newtown
Pic: Kathryn Cowen, Stargazer, 2013. Acrylic and ink on linen, 25×20 cms.