Allison Katzs (b. 1980, Montreal, Canada) exhibition at Camden Art Centre
is the London-based artists first institutional solo show in London.
For more than a decade, Katz has been exploring paintings relationship to questions of identity and expression, selfhood and voice. Animated by a restless sense of humour and curiosity, her works articulate a tricksy language of recurring forms roosters, monkeys and cabbages, among other things that are by turns familiar and enigmatic, and through which the artists sustained and critical pursuit of genuine ambiguity takes shape. The work for Artery was developed over the last two years, in parallel with the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new paintings, posters and exhibition design are infused with questions of communication and connection, distancing and intimacy.
For Katz, Artery is a resonant and loaded title: she says: I want to emphasise the non-order of things, from inside to out. As such, the exhibition is preoccupied by the concept of networks and channels, by the spaces between inside and outside, experience and image; and by paintings traditional relationship to the haptic, that is, to not-touching.
The exhibition is a collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary, where it was shown in its first iteration in 2021, and it responds to the particularities of the gallery spaces of both venues, treating the buildings as porous bodies: organisms that extend both above and below, inside and out. In Nottingham, the exhibition burrowed underground to a network of subterranean caves beneath the gallery building. At Camden Art Centre, it has been reimagined for the specificities of the galleries, expanded with a substantial new body of paintings, and includes an off-site presentation at the Canadian High Commission on Trafalgar Square. Here, in the gallery at Canada House, Katz sets up an abundant installation drawn from her extensive archive of announcement posters that she has been creating in relation to her exhibitions for over a decade. Works in their own right, the same references that appear in Katzs paintings spill off and into the posters, circulating in and feeding-back from the network and sensibility of advertising and graphic design. The construction of images as posters operates within an expanded practice as a way of playfully approaching protocols and procedures of typography, language and graphics.
Across all of these sites, Katzs autofiction unfolds through a series of biographical anecdotes and moments of synchronicity or coincidence. Drawing from her family history, including the meeting place of her maternal grandparents in Nottingham, and the coincidental address of Katzs childhood home on Finchley Road, Hampstead, Quebec, (shared with Camden Art Centre, on Finchley Road, Hampstead, London), a kind of origin story unfolds through the production of unlikely images, pictures that emerge through a very personal enquiry into identity, name and place.
Since graduating with her MFA from Columbia University, New York, Katz has worked consistently to establish a reputation as one of the most exciting painters of her generation. In 2020 she was shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women and is represented by Luhring Augustine in New York; Gió Marconi, Milan; Antenna Space, Shanghai; and Dépendance, Brussels. She has exhibited widely across the European institutional scene in exhibitions at the Fondation Carmignac, France, Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany and at MANIFESTA 13, Marseille.
The exhibition at Camden Art Centre, which has a long-standing reputation for platforming artists at critical moments in their careers, marks a surge of attention on the UK stage. Her work is currently included in the survey show Mixing It Up: Painting Today, at Hayward Gallery, 2021; Between 2019-20, Katz was included in the group exhibition curated by Martin Herbert, Slow Painting, at the Leeds Museum and Art Gallery and The Levinsky Gallery, University of Plymouth. A new artists book, designed by Studio Mathias Clottu and co-published with MIT press, will extend the experience of Artery beyond the three exhibition iterations and will include essays by Martin Clark and Sam Thorne.
Allison Katz was born in Montreal, Canada in 1980 and currently lives and works in London, England. She studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and received her MFA from Columbia University in New York. Significant recent institutional solo exhibitions of her work have been presented at the MIT List Center for the Arts, Cambridge, MA; Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada; and Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. Notable group exhibitions include Mixing It Up: Painting Today, Hayward Gallery, London, UK; The Imaginary Sea, Fondation Carmignac, Porquerolles, France; Slow Painting, curated by Hayward Touring (presented at Leeds Museum and Art Gallery, Leeds, UK; Levinsky Galley, Plymouth, UK); Maskulinitäten, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn, Germany; One If By Land, Powerlong Museum, Shanghai, China; City Prince/sess, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France; Paint, Also Known as Blood, Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland; and Puddle, Pothole, Portal, SculptureCenter, New York, NY. A comprehensive monograph on Katzs work was published by JRP|Editions, Geneva in 2020.