Allison Katz: Artery Publication
Now Available: A richly illustrated volume—and the first exhibition catalogue—of the work of the artist Allison Katz, whose multilayered paintings, ceramics, and posters are both embodied and enigmatic.
London-based Canadian artist Allison Katz has been exploring painting's relationship to questions of identity and expression, selfhood and voice, for more than a decade. Animated by a restless sense of humour, her works articulate what the artist has called a “genuine ambiguity.” Artery—a book that situates itself somewhere between a monograph, exhibition catalogue, and an artist's book—is an exploration of what is within and below, and of the infrastructural arteries that connect all of us. It is published on the occasion of Katz's first institutional exhibition in the United Kingdom, presented at Nottingham Contemporary (2021) and Camden Art Centre, London (2022).
Gathering together essays from Sam Thorne, former director of Nottingham Contemporary, and Martin Clark, director of Camden Art Centre, as well as a text by the artist, Artery features 50 full-color image plates of the artist's work that are supplemented by 150 reference images compiled by Katz herself. Design by Studio Mathias Clottu.
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To accompany the exhibition Allison Katz: 'Artery' (22 May - 31 October, 2021), the artist also made two special artists’ editions.
'Masking (Jest)' and 'Masking (Profile)', 2021, are created as prints, each overlaid with a delicate paper cut-out. This collaged element is inspired by the intricate and ephemeral Chinese paper cut outs, collected by the artist’s mother and given to her by her uncle after travels to China in the 1960’s. These cut outs, depicting characters from the Chinese Operatic tradition, were traditionally affixed to windows at festivals to adorn them, allowed to weather over time and fall off.
The title of each work is a play on the artist’s initials (Ms. Allison Sarah Katz - M.A.S.K.) and also the self-portrait - as projected persona or theatre. In a literal sense to mask is to layer over, masking tape; the material with which to stick it down.
The mask arrives onto the two background images, fluttering across the paper and alighting temporarily, finding itself suddenly part of a pre-existing landscape. For Katz, there is a sense of movement across motifs. The work embodies a feeling of transience - as on a stage, in a life, while constructing identity - that which can be taken on and off. These two prints, reproduced from recent drawings, already play with games of subjectivity. Noses, head-on or in profile, like masks, can be made to stand in as a surrogate for the whole, imagined identities are doodled or concealed by the edges of the page, a partial view, masked.