ArtCN Gallery is pleased to present "Gravity & Grace" the first solo exhibition in China of Dutch artist Cathalijn Wouters.
Seeing Cathalijn Wouters’ work in Shanghai brings immediate resonances with ink on paper calligraphy and the significance of the brushstroke to the depth of meaning in her work. Born in Tilburg in The Netherlands (1955), a graduate of Academie St. Joost Breda, Cathalijn Wouters has recently been shown at Art Karlsruhe (2016), PAN Amsterdam (2010-2015) and Art Fair Cologne (2015), as well as having shows at Janknegt Fine Art, Amsterdam (solo, 2014), WM Gallery, Antwerp (2016) and RademakersGallery, Amsterdam (solo, 2016). Her work was included in the Dutch Art Now exhibition at Gallery Witzenhausen in New York in 2010, as well as being shown in Paris, Utrecht, Basel and Rotterdam. This will be her first show in China.
When I look at Cathalijn Wouters’ painting, I strongly sense her capacity to express far more than is simply defined by the line on the paper. She shows no hesitancy in her strokes that seem to convey a sense of the figures she draws, rather than simply the reality of them. Cathalijn Wouters’ work is not simple, but rather complex, and within its sparseness, it contains a sense of energy and emotion. The importance of the figure in her work across various media is not manifested as a desire to capture the detail of reality, the accuracy of the human form itself, but to stimulate the viewer to engage with what lies beyond the purely visual. With a few confident lines she freezes a pose or a moment of intimacy and draws the viewer into the work, engaging him or her in the process of thinking about what they see. It is this quality that makes her work both figurative and abstract, poetic and strong.
The shape, intensity, lightness, direction, and variation in the line is not random but mediates between the form, the artist’s thoughts and the process of creating a drawing or painting. Seeing a selection of her works, it is clear that Cathalijn Wouters is as fascinated by the process of creating a piece of art as she is with the impact she seeks to have on the viewer. Her human figures, men and women, always naked, are in one sense classical but in another evince a freedom from convention. Her technique using wax over charcoal and over ink has the effect of preserving the delicacy of the charcoal drawing whilst adding a diffusing layer to give even greater space for creation in the mind of the observer as well as the artist. Drawing, as a medium, is considered the most direct of expressions, leaving no room for the artist to conceal raw emotion or passion. Ink painting has a similar quality.
The works in the exhibition have been selected to give a rounded view of Cathalijn Wouters’ recent work, and, in addition to the ink on paper pieces, include works on canvas, wood, and mixed media. Throughout the works, across time and media, she creates a world that is poetic and melancholic, affective and robust. The nude bodies that she paints and draws are grounded, connected and often passionate. These are not ephemeral but are lived-in bodies, embodying life itself, yet they are also weightless whatever surface or media Cathalijn Wouters uses. Even when she adds objects, shadows and words, it is the weightless yet heavy bodies that remain the focus.