Krakow Witkin Gallery proudly presents “Self-Made”, an exhibition of new work by New York-based artist, Kate Shepherd. The show, comprised of paintings and two sets of bronze sculptures, will run from March 31 through May 5, 2018. “Self-Made” marks Shepherd’s third solo exhibition with the gallery.
On view in the gallery are five new paintings that feature opaque and ghostly white shapes on reflective black grounds. Each painting is built on top of a coat of industrial enamel paint that Shepherd brushes onto the panel, in a manner that emphasizes parallel, horizontal striations that emerge in the field. Familiar from Shepherd’s earlier bodies of work, the industrial enamel dries with a glossy, mirror-like finish that registers and reflects the space around the painting, fragmenting the shapes on account of the subtle ridges made by her brush. These paintings mark a shift in her practice: rather than applying a linear image on the enamel, the panels themselves become and create the subject. Shepherd takes them off the wall, moves them around her studio and photographs the reflections that appear on the paintings. She then uses these photographs to make large-format silkscreens and, with enamel inks, renders permanently a fleeting reflection onto the surface on which it first appeared. In this way, the hazy white images conspire to suggest architectonic forms in perspectival space. Works in “Self-Made” depict walls and paintings within Shepherd’s studio, as well as the harsh bare lights on her ceilings. On one work, she reproduces the reflection of the skylight found in the print shop where she makes the images with master printer, Luther Davis. Once these paintings are displayed elsewhere, they reflect their new environment – something that Shepherds line work always withstood. Both the depicted and the real reflections take on the same characteristics of the horizontal waviness of the glossy enamel surface, making these shapes borne of the panels rather than being of a standard photographic image.
Expanding upon the notion of a self-made image, the exhibit includes two pairs of bronze sculptures placed casually on the floor. Monument, B: Shake’n Bake, All Bran and Monument, I: Baking Soda, Cereal are bronze casts of store-bought consumer goods boxes. Devoid of text, the sculptures are identifiable by their dimensions and their specifically shaped cardboard folds. That each work is cast anew makes no pair the same thus showing how a mass-produced entity can have its own quirks such as a haphazardly placed price tag or ding. They stand as pairs – one larger, one smaller, similar, yet different – the formal relationships can be seen as surrogates or as a metaphor for relationships between beings or things, whether related to the actual box source, or a suggestion of anthropomorphic or architectural form. Bronze signifies richness but also absurdity – by making a codified generic object permanent.
Paintings, products, viewers, and the actual relationships therein comprise the conceptual elements included in Self-Made. Taken as a whole, Shepherd’s exhibition balances the particulars of each element’s origins and recognizes – in material, process and life of the art- the opportunity for the viewer to collaborate in looking.