Hauser & Wirth announced today that the gallery is now representing artist Allison Katz in collaboration with Gió Marconi, Milan, Antenna Space, Shanghai and dépendance, Brussels.
Allison Katz (b. 1980, Montreal, Canada) has emerged as a seminal voice in contemporary painting over the past decade, critically acclaimed for her cross-genre work that embraces the mutability of images and the tensions between, what is conveyed and what she explores is perceived. Her practice is rooted in a personal, biographical approach to found imagery and art historical references, combined with irreverent wit, wordplay, and humor. From roosters (the bird) and cabbages to self-portraits and dismembered bodies, Katz’s vibrant and idiosyncratic emblems question painterly subjectivity and self-awareness, as well as the slippery nature of meaning. Her precisely crafted works shift in style, technique and materiality, often defying formal categorizations to develop a practice that examines the conventions of the medium, the myths surrounding the role of the artist and that of the exhibition.
Architectural interventions are an integral part of Katz’s practice; Her thoughtful spatial environments combine paintings, posters and ceramics to create unique encounters and perspectives. She creates a flow of subtle choreographies in accordance with the images presented. By grappling with site-specific conditions, Katz forces the viewer to make connections between her disparate works, giving way to a poetic order amid a multitude of visual references. Recent works and exhibition titles have alluded more literally to such networks of connection and communication, whether in relation to bodily arteries and blood circulation, the canals and transportation systems of Venice, or the transformation of an object as it moves from sculpture to photograph to painting. Her canvases are, as Katz explains, “active sites” with “possible entrances and exits” that draw attention to the multiple layers of consciousness that lie within a painting’s surface and subject.
Katz’s first exhibition at Hauser & Wirth with new works by the artist will take place in autumn 2023 in Los Angeles. Early next year, Katz will be participating in an artist residency at Hauser & Wirth Somerset.
Katz’s work is an exploration of the plane of painting as a flat space in which depth can appear, both literally and figuratively. Beyond the pictorial plane, her practice has a complex arrangement with the tactile world and engages with the idea of the viewer as subject and participant. Katz’s use of texture complicates the painting’s window-like gaze into another world by grounding the physicality of images in our own sense of touch by mixing sand or rice into the pigment.
Breaking further the autonomy of the illustrative tableau, her staging of exhibitions is inseparable from the paintings, but also separate from them and often a work of art in and of itself. The walls she designs are built around the idea of a viewer’s encounter. This may involve creating contrasting perspectives, spaces within spaces, or painted one-to-one copies of pre-existing architectural elements such as an elevator. Her relationship to site-specificity is fluid, and motivated by constraints and a willingness to subvert the premise itself: paintings custom-made for one place find new meaning through an entirely alternative facility elsewhere. The autonomy of painting as an object in its own right is both complicated and energized by the contingency of its reception and by the exhibition as a form.
Katz’s interest in framing as motif and subtext is a formal technique that explores subjective assumptions; The frame becomes a portal to understand the world. The windows and mouths that frequently appear in her paintings address a duality between the sensual and intellectual consumption of information, synthesizing different types of sensory experiences such as taste and sight. Exhibition posters frame the event with actual dates and times, but also distort and expand it by existing as stand-alone artworks to be shown after the fact.
Katz’s use of wordplay, ambiguity, or enigma in both the choice of titles and the creation of the image itself extends to the use of her signature as a visual element, and speaks for a self-referential thread running through her work. The AKgraph paintings – whose titles play with the origins of the words autos “self” + graphos “written” – explore the territory between everyday signatures and formal drawing, inscribing identity to leave a mark. Through the elements that make up her name, Katz creates an image of her own face, juxtaposing caricature-like shapes against ideas that are seen as stable and hierarchical. This playful and exploratory touch defies the conventional notion of an artist’s “handwritten style” in favor of a broader exploration of how a painting can be made today.