Del Kathryn Barton - satellite fade-out, 2011
14 July 2011
Del Kathryn Barton’s monolithic portraits of an unspecified race – females of the species – are truncated by the confines of their canvases. Faces pressed up against the picture plane. They inhabit the thin dimension of their painting’s surface. This council of visionaries have eyes blinded with liquid colour. They look both inward and outward. They probe their carnal beings but also voyage beyond the outer limits of the mundane realm toward knowledge of a kind more cosmic and more alien. Various media – acrylic, gouache, watercolour and ink – are the glue that binds these two distinct dimensions.
A thin and expressive linearity describes Barton’s figures. Their flesh is a colourless void, silence within the decorative field of static that surrounds them. There are two things we can know about this race: 1) They belong to the mammalian class or are mammalian-like, maternal nurturing evidenced by their breasts – of which there are many; 2) In most cases, hair (another feature of mammals) has mutated into feathers, both the hair on their heads and the finer down one might expect on the rest of their bodies has become a decorative armature. The feathers commence a rhythm of repetitive patterning to develop within the painting. The rhythm becomes increasingly manic in other parts of the canvas where feathers give way to galaxies of minute dots. This intense abstraction is oblivious to the large dames that dominate the canvases on a macro scale but is nonetheless buzzing with an intelligence of its own. The ebb and flow of the ‘satellite fade out’ of the paintings’ backgrounds is broken occasionally by eruptions of a greater volume, wormholes to elsewhere.
Back on the figures, ribbons, woven and tied in bows, bind the decorative realm of the human made to that made by nature. And a veil of painted confetti sits between us here and all that Barton has put there on the canvas as if it wasn’t enough already.