Thursday, February 27, 2014

Becky Knold at Salon Refu

The Weekly Volcano, Feb. 27, 2014

Three years ago I wrote that painter Becky Knold was an up-and-coming late bloomer and galleries should take a look at her. Since then her work has become ubiquitous. Galleries took a look, and they liked what they saw. This week she had openings at two different galleries on successive nights and works in a total of four shows this month, including the Arts Olympia show, something in the Seattle Home Show and Museum Contempo in
Shelton, and best of all a one-person show at Olympia’s Salon Refu. She’s the darling of Olympia’s art community.

Knold’s paintings are hard to describe. They’re nothing and they’re everything. They’re abstract, minimalist, colorful but in a subdued way. They’re atmospheric color-field paintings with barely discernable forms if any, and no subject matter whatsoever; yet they are clearly landscapes and paintings of buildings. They are all about textures on monochromatic surfaces, but there is no tactile texture at all — meaning there is no heavy build-up of paint on the surface, no gouging or scraping, even though they look like they contain all of that. Or they look like they have been spray painted or dipped in liquid paint of closely related hues and allowed to dry. In some of them there are occasional swipes of paint that look to have been done with a flat, hard instrument with precise and hard edges where the stroke ends. Such strokes provide the closest thing to solid form in some of her paintings.

If you think paintings have to be about something other than the application of paint on a flat surface, the title of this show — Atmosphere, Land and Water — may provide a hint as to what they are all about. While not exactly
Landscape, Green-Gold
depicting water and air and land, she certainly evokes the feeling of the outdoors, of clouds, of mist, of rushing or gently flowing water.

“Splash” looks like glaciers crumbling into water. This is one of my favorite pieces in the show. It is a powerfully moving piece with strong contrasts of icy blue and dull white and gray. There is more discernable form in this one than in most of her more atmospheric works, and there are passages of paint build-up and some edges that belie my earlier remarks about texture.

“Lacunae” is like swirling galaxies — one huge, circular swipe of whatever she applied the paint with (a broad brush or something flat) contrasted with speckles of gold and nuanced color changes from midnight blue to golden brown. It does, however, seem a little contrived and hokey compared to some of her other paintings.

“Celadon” looks like something ancient trapped in ice, and in “Confluence” we see melting polar ice.

“Landscape, Green-Gold” is another outstanding work that breaks the mold — more formal structure in this one, which I’d like to see more of in her paintings. At the top there are distinct bands of green-gold and charcoal-black. Clearly defined brushstrokes in each band. The bottom gold band looks like a piece of wood painted and glued to the surface, and below that is an atmospheric area of light gray that looks like mist, with no sign whatsoever of a brush stroke. The startling contrasts and subtle changes of color and form in this painting are amazing. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that she has reached some kind of apotheosis with this one.

There are worlds and worlds to be seen in these paintings.


Salon Refu, Atmosphere, Land and Water, Tuesday-Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. through March 16, 222 Fourth Ave. W, Olympia.

All photos courtesy of the artist.

1 comment:

Salons in indore said...

Your blog has always attracted me and this particular post left me speechless. It is one of the best pieces of writing I have seen. Good job.