Fine Lines: Kate Shepherd at Galerie Lelong
Kate Shepherd: Fwd: The Telephone Game
September 12 to October 18, 2014
528 West 26th Street, between Tenth and Eleventh avenues
New York City, 212 315 0470
High gloss panels in resonant hues that range from tan, red, blue, and green through grey and black are placed at varying distances from each other around the walls of the gallery. As sizes vary, a frieze-like composition in colored rectangles configures differently depending on viewpoint. On passing through Kate Shepherd’s exhibition at Galerie Lelong surface reflections on each panel respond to gallery lighting, shadows and any transient passing of visitors who themselves can observe others, vacant architectural space or their own reflection. Three more panels, be it of an entirely different kind, rest on the floor, lean against a wall or rest on a shelf. An equivalent to the lines visible from closer proximity on the gloss panels emerge in these works too: on the plywood floor piece they are laser cut, after a pattern of cracked concrete, while the other two works are actually fractured and cracked at angels. Either way, all the works in the exhibition have fine lines of one kind or another. In contrast, the painted lines of the gloss panels which derive from computer imaging – more of which later – differ from the other three panels in that the lines they have are accessible as marked, broken or cut – subject to the given happenstance out of which they came – and do not have the ambiguity of the quasi pictorial illusionism present in the enamel painted gloss panels.
The reflections of the gloss panels bring to mind Gerhard Richter’s grey paintings on glass and when the panels consist of two joined parts of contrasting color Blinky Palermo’s fabric paintings. As the panels all refer to painting one way or another and use the characteristics of the room – they are not passive, like fictive windows hanging on a wall – another apposite artist to mention (one for whom, like Shepherd herself, the epithet of minimalist seems a misnomer) is Adrian Schiess. This artist also takes the object qualities of painting and situates them as the subject of an expansive conversation inclusive of extra pictorial possibilities.
Lines across the surface of Shepherd’s gloss panels are based on computer modeling of an image of an Alvar Aalto bent plywood chair and naked models that appear in a 3-D computer game. Shepherd has reversed the process in creating her own three-dimensional models from which to subsequently create two-dimensional images traced in paint across a super illusionistic and reflective surface. For Shepherd this process continues to be explored after many years. What is different in this exhibition is the modified serially transformed computer game cipher of a figure to a figure that has distinctly classical connotations. Where previously abstract spaces were established with Shepherd’s typically fine linear constructs, each one independent, in this new body of work a process of change is elucidated from one painting to the next. Hence the reference in the exhibitions title, to a game of passing on information that involves inevitably changes because of what is added or subtracted in the exchange. Titles of paintings take their names from the computer files that they are based on – another indicator of the parallel process echoed in the paintings.
The process is most explicit perhaps in the triptych womantorse daz3d2 Draw-On-1.lrfr(three scenes) (2014) where pale lines on a black ground shift subtly as the gentle arc of a woman’s body is variously traced in curving vertical lines. Each panel is itself made from two abutted panels and in catching the available light differently; the tone of what are in fact identically colored panels is changed. This gives the impression of lines passing through a different zone or quality of light. From outlined traces located on an equivocal surface to linear signs of fatigue and stress, Shepherd’s otherwise bluntly physical paintings open in both increments and jolts from one distinct sensation to another, from the solid to the ephemeral.