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New York Art: Catherine Lepp

Based in NY, Catherine Lepp’s work in at once intriguing and complex. Passionati’s Angela Alney caught up with Catherine. Here’s how it went.

Catherine Lepp - Belly

Catherine Lepp - Ceiling 1

Catherine Lepp Ceiling 2

Catherine Lepp - Flying

Catherine Lepp - Kick

Catherine Lepp - Whirlpool

Catherine on Catherine:
I see the open water as the last truly unquantifiable and ungovernable frontier. Its controlling tides dictate our ebb and flow and its rhythms remain beyond our authority. The flux of water questions our senses and threatens our equilibrium, as it also challenges our survival instincts. Of all the elements, water seems to have the most emotional impact upon the human psyche, as the perception of ourselves can change as rapidly as the water around us.

I am presenting an exploration of this psychology of water through abstraction and figuration. In particular, how a figure deals with the complexities of water and its unpredictable force, whether it is a figure trying to stay afloat or survive a wave. To date, my images have been probing the memory of figures within water, and how to translate that idea into paint and mark making. I am searching for ways to convey the sensation of swimming, floating or surfing through colour and line. My figures emerge from the water and dissolve below, as feet and hands and heads push through the water towards the air or are distilled and distorted by the refracted light underneath. The figures are un-located in their environment, they are not held by a shoreline, but I am trying to pin down their movements with paint and to capture moments in time with shifts in space and colour.

My first paintings were conceived as diptychs, as concurrent moments of time and memory in the water. These were to be viewed on the ceiling to remove the figure from the vertical plane, thinking of the Baroque and Rococo paintings where figures fall from a limitless sky. Recently, I have been working on drawings on a long scroll, where the figures exist in a time line of their movement in the water. The ink drawing is suspended in the white of the paper, held by the narrative of the scroll. The images are abstract in construct and concept, but figurative in interpretation, they are slow to read, the line a metaphor for the mystery of evaporation, of how things can be read then disappear.

Passionati:  Which artists have influenced you?

Catherine: The artists that are in my mind as I create these paintings are Joan Mitchell, Francis Bacon and Michealangelo. How they deal with figures in landscape, appearing and disappearing with the line or mark.

Passionati: What musically inspires when you are creating your work?

Catherine: I like the randomness of my iPod on shuffle, I have 3 days worth of Dub from my brother in the UK, Scientist, king Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry. I listen to lots of British music & radio stations from Jarvis Cocker to Shirley Bassey.

Connect with Catherine

Catherine Lepp near water