November 16 – December 20, 2022
Morton Fine Arts
52 O St NW #302
Washington, D.C. 20001
Strange land, strange timesa personal exhibition of paintings and engravings by the artist Catherine Hattam. Incorporating literary and art historical elements into his work, Hattam’s interiors offer materialistic explorations of ultimately psychic space. The artist’s first solo exhibition in the United States, Strange Country, Strange Times, will be presented from November 16 to December 20, 2022 at the Morton Fine Art space in Washington, DC.
Brightly colored walls and windows, glued book bindings and iconographic depictions of native Australian flora and fauna make up much of Hattam’s pictorial practice, a lifelong investigation of the domestic interior. . Acknowledging a centuries-old preoccupation with the domestic space as an imaginative site and societal limit of female artistic production, Hattam’s totemic kitchen tables and charged dining chairs return as motifs throughout her artistic practice, doubly imbued as places of domestic work and sites of imaginative desire. Often the windows overlook fantastic landscapes – a sad rumination on experiences offered but withheld.
In Strange Country, Strange Times, the dynamism of Hattam’s windows seeps into the interior of the house, reflecting the lingering isolation of recent pandemic years, when the means of travel and discovery were often confined to the mind. Hattam was well equipped for such conditions: her domestic spaces were always inveterately imaginative, enlarged (and often literally constructed from) the pages and covers of the books she read. His outspoken pastiche of conveying literary and artistic influences on these interior landscapes reveals how Hattam sees the perception of space as an inherently psychological construct, with internal influences and personal histories governing how we make sense of space. most familiar room.
In 2019, Hattam received a scholarship to study at the Australian Print Workshop under master printer Martin King, where she began learning the method of puzzle woodcut printing, a technique in the art classical Japanese which was later adopted by Edvard Munch and Paul Gauguin. Several works in this exhibition were first made in this studio in the months immediately preceding the pandemic. One of the show’s signature works, Strange Country, depicts Australian animal life in a landscape originally taken from Giotto.
Reflecting on these prodigious prints, Hattam notes that the pandemic has allowed her to recognize the isolation implicit in life in Australia, a condition of being that she has often imposed in her art. Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa (1831), another woodcut, is regularly inserted into Hattam’s work here, alternately as window views or paintings within paintings, and represents for artists a mentality of time – waves of feminism, waves of coronavirus – that embraces natural rhythms based on a feeling of tidal flow.
© 2022 Katherine Hattam
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