'Expectation and Other Ironies' - Kay Wood
STALA CONTEMPORARY proudly presents a solo exhibition of new paintings by Kay Wood, continuing her dichotomous exploration of abstraction and representation. A gestural and expressive rawness permeates both her varied abstract motifs and the deliberately minimalised depictions of the figurative forms which sit companionably alongside them.
In the catalogue essay to Kay’s last solo exhibition in Perth, the late John Stringer wrote that ‘distinctions and peculiarities most emphatically replace homogenization as a hallmark of her production.’ He also observed the ‘oblique current of autobiography running through all her work as she continues her strategy of mix and match.’ The current work continues to mine the physical and psychic elements of lived experiences, past and present and is steeped in the upheaval of a young family from Perth to a run-down farm on the south coast of Western Australia.
Continuing the excavation of the story of her life, Kay engages with the metaphysical that reticulates throughout the ‘factual’ linear narrative as well as the actual physical objects and spaces she has experienced. Of her work, Kay has said ‘I work to experience the profound, or the metaphysical, within the prosaic. The prosaic symbols of my (equally prosaic) life story stand in for another level of experience at the level of the profound.’ Taking away the dross or the overt details associated with objects and life experiences reveals an aesthetic undercurrent concerning poetics and a desire for beauty. When we look at things, we see the stories we tell ourselves – in mining for beauty Kay seeks to pry meaning loose from fixity.
As per Corbin, the symbol announces a phase of consciousness distinct from rational evidence; it is the ‘cipher’ of a mystery, the only means of saying something that cannot be apprehended in any other way: a symbol is never explained, once and for all but must be deciphered over and over again, just as a musical score is never deciphered once and for all but calls for ever new execution which refutes knowing and embraces understanding and appreciation in the moment. To paraphrase Umberto Eco’s ideas on ‘informal’ art, these works are open in that they propose a wide range of interpretive possibilities and whose substantial indeterminacy allows for a number of possible readings, a constellation of elements that lend themselves to all sorts of reciprocal relationships. Sometimes the titles refer to actual places, sometimes they are lines from songs, elsewhere as in the case of ‘Please Explain?’, ‘A Painting is Not a Megaphone’ and ‘You’re Not the Boss of Me’ they are a wry comment on the perpetual Q & A between artist and inner-critic. Embedded within the work there is also a drive to counter the increasing consumption driven rationalism in the world. Numbering of works is random, not algorithmic or chronological. Numbers may be related to places lived or used simply for their formal beauty. There is a refusal in these works to ‘finish’ and to provide ‘closure’ with a label. To this extent and as per Umberto Eco’s concept of “openness”, the decision to leave arrangements of some constituents of a work to the public or to chance – means that the open work is an interactive process between artist, the work, the world, and the viewer.
Kay’s artistic influences range from Jean-Simeon Chardin, to Giorgio Morandi, Thomas Nozkowski, Gunter Forg, Jessica Stockholder and Amy Sillman (to name a few).
The artist gives these reticent visual poems to the audience as a gesture of connection without expectation that either side actually gets it ‘right’.
Kay Wood studied at Sydney College of the Arts and has a BVA (Hons) and an MVA. She also has a BA (Hons) from Deakin University. Kay grew up in country Western Australia. Prior to her return to Perth in 2005 Kay had had fourteen solo shows and participated in numerous group exhibitions.
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