Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring
works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis Lee Mitchell and Jay McCafferty. The show opens with a public reception for the artists on June 28th, 5-7pm and will be on view through September 8th. Using counterintuitive approaches to art making, the artists in this exhibition expose their materials and work to smoke, soot and flames. Their process-driven techniques incorporate smoldering devices and scorching (methods typically associated with destruction), making for unconventional contemplative paintings and drawings that invite the viewer’s sustained attention.
Kathleen Kucka prepares her surfaces with paint or charcoal, and uses torches, hotplates or
irons to “draw” her burn on paper or canvas. She controls the process by dabbing water to
maintain the desired shape and size of her burnt forms. Working steadily, Kucka structures her
composition in spatially arranged linear or circular patterns, adding layers of pigment, canvas or
fabric to achieve more depth and texture. The results are organized abstractions evoking
thoughts of nature, destruction and re-generation. Kucka’s barn studio in upstate Connecticut
allows her the space needed to do her scorching safely and undisturbed, and she then
completes the work in her New York City studio.
Dennis Lee Mitchell chooses smoke as his medium, using different torches to generate the
ephemeral material. The produced soot adheres onto archival paper in different forms, from
wispy, hazy billowy traces to thickly dense black accumulations. At times he actually sears the
paper to suggest smoldering embers.
Jay McCafferty, Blue 20, 2015, solar burns and acrylic on paper, 36 x 36 inches
This smoking technique, known as fumage, was a favorite practice among the Surrealists, who
were all about chance and allowing the subconscious to take over the artistic process. Like the
Surrealists, Mitchell’s imagery emerges from improvisation resulting in mesmerizing flower-like
gestures or mysterious landscapes.
Jay McCafferty’s work varies from Kucka’s and Mitchell’s in that he uses the sunlight to ignite
his burns. Working outdoors under the ever-abundant California sun, usually on a rooftop,
McCafferty directs the sun rays through a magnifying glass onto vellum or very thin paper
painted with blue pigments or rusted in earth tones. These solar drawings become Zen-like
color field works, painstakingly punctuated throughout with tiny burn holes that create
intricate honey-comb or delicate patterns. McCafferty has work at the Getty Museum, the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art and MoMA in New York City.