Kathryn Bemrose / A Manner of Speaking

Kathryn Bemrose is a Toronto based artist, previously represented by Christopher Cutts and De Luca Galleries. In her recent solo show at Yumart Gallery she continues to display her love to play with colors and make them complement each other. Looking at Bemrose’s canvases is a great pleasure; they are vibrant when studied separately, yet harmonious together. She loves to explore and experiment the technicalities of painting, the color choices, the brushwork. She states on the gallery’s website, “A completed composition always leaves a question. And so I go to the next painting in answering the last one however it inevitably comes up with a new question. Before you know it, there is a body of work asking and answering ad infinitum. The last painting always leaves an unanswered question.”

Installation view of Kathryn Bemrose, A Manner of Speaking at Yumart, 2017. Photo: Summer Sun

Bemrose says that her works are not about emotions, emotions just come into the picture with the creation. China Doll is the only exception. She once watched a documentary about animal fur production in China and the scene of ripping fur off a live animal has stayed with her for a very long time – so she painted that moment. Without her explanation, I could not have guessed the story. After Bemrose realized how much people liked the painting because of its colors, she said, it still kept its political message, but only for her.

Kathryn Bemrose, China Doll, 2017 oil on panel, 32 x 26 in. Courtesy of Yumart

On one of the larger pieces, titled Promise, hues of light blue and stronger yellow are moving in all directions, creating spatial depth with colors. It is a very warm piece to look at, also a beautiful one that complement the other, more darker ones, with the lightness radiating from it. The artist said that she likes the way the show is curated since it balances the darker and lighter paintings very well.

Kathryn Bemrose, Promise, 2014 oil on canvas, 50 x 40 in. Courtesy of Yumart

The smaller purple, orange and blue paintings in the corner of the gallery are separate pieces and as Bemrose said, each piece has its own voice. Yet, to me, they look surprisingly well when placed next to each other. It seems as if the artist has purposely chosen complementary colors to form a series. As she said, she never paints with a plan, the colors just happen. Since her thinking is never linear, she wouldn’t be able to tell how a painting would look when finished. The result sometimes is surprising even for her. The colors she uses are often very distinctive, and she leaves white spaces in between them that allows her to create a line without actually drawing a line.

Kathryn Bemrose, Kennikins, 2018 oil on panel, 20 x 16 in (left), Ode to Coughtry, 2018 oil on panel, 20 x 16 in (middle) and A Turn of Phrase, 2018 oil on panel, 20 x 16 in (right). Courtesy of Yumart

In the show, A Manner of Speaking, Bemrose is the one who speaks, letting us know her passion of painting. I found her compositions and colors delightful and felt light and happy after leaving the gallery.

Summer Sun

*Exhibition information: February 3 – 24, 2018, Yumart Gallery, 401 Richmond Street West Suite B20, Toronto. Gallery Hours: Tue -Sat, 12 – 6 pm.

1 comment for “Kathryn Bemrose / A Manner of Speaking

  1. Catherine Morrisey
    February 18, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    Kath Bemrose paints the poetry of being. There are no nets. You stand on the edge of a cliff when you confront her paintings, each one alone, each one evidence of a life. There are marks and they look tentative. Each mark is reaching out, grabbing, or softly patting, sometimes touching emptiness. Like a strange unidentifiable noise in a long stretch of quiet, these marks trace the line between this person in this moment and the steep fall. The direct push of paint on canvas is her voice in time. She is telling you a story about mortality, and you might be surprised to find yourself at the edge of the cliff, looking out at a larger universe than you were expecting.

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