An Artist’s Supremely Material Paintings for the Immaterial Internet Era

In her first New York solo show at Garvey|Simon Art Access, Kate Carr presents work that can be variously read as sculpture, drawing, or painting. Her primary focus is line, as is evident in her reductivist compositions. As Carr writes, “The formal quality that concerns me most is line. I see line in my materials. I look for line in the world. It has a rhythm, a hum. It both differentiates space and connects it. A line is the simplest mark. It is a part of a whole.” Indeed, this relationship between the part and the whole is a driving element of her work, with lines crossing, intersecting, overlapping, and running under the entirety of an image.     

Carr makes her sculptural paintings by covering slabs of Baltic Birch plywood with felt, juxtaposing hard, smooth surfaces with soft, pliant ones. The plywood is stacked so that the end is visible; rather than appearing as a flat wood surface, it reveals itself as parallel bands of golden brown color. These often run diagonally across the surface, creating angular momentum in the composition. In Slant Fold 6 (2014), the angle of the plywood is slight, but is enough to create a sense of dynamism within the work. The off-square panel veers right at the bottom, a trapezoidal portion extending off the rectilinear body. This energized slice is given further visual power by the addition of a thin pink and a slightly wider yellow band of thick felt. The fabric acts as paint or drawing, complicating the image with the presence of flat, matte, bright color. A similarly shaped piece, Slant Fold 5 (2014), is covered in a rich teal felt and a deep crimson band near the bottom, reversing the relationship of the area of wood and the area of the felted planes.

Although her work resembles painting and drawing in its flat, near-rectangular form and its wall hanging, the pieces are closer to sculpture, as many shaped canvases of the 1970s and ’80s were. The works project from the wall, allowing viewers to see them nearly in the round, and their contorted or clipped forms call attention to their object-ness. Corner Fold 1 (2013) is almost fully covered by a square of felt, except for a sheared-off corner at the lower right. There, as opposed to the thick red felt that covers much of the surface, a small triangle of blonde wood is exposed, as if revealed by folding the panel itself. Resembling the work of color abstractionists like Barnett Newman, Joseph Marioni, and Brice Marden, Carr updates her study of the form, making supremely material paintings for an immaterial internet era.

Kate Carr: First Folds” is on view at Garvey|Simon Art Access, New York, Nov. 13–Dec. 13, 2014.

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