Kitty Horton: Minimalist Sublimity

Published 20 March 2013 Simon Marsh

This body of work by Brisbane artist Kitty Horton is indicative of the first steps taken in establishing a mid-career style. Gone are the Superflat Murakami like portraits that proliferated Horton’s 2009 solo showing at Oh Really Gallery Sydney. Rather what we are looking at and prodded to converse with here, are the processes utilised by minimalist artists such as Tony Tuckson, Cy Twombly, Robert Ryman and Antoni Tapies.

What becomes apparent is an order and intention through this body of work that gradually reveals the unconscious mind of the artist at play. The expressive dynamic of the scaring and ruptures that Horton employs throughout her pieces, fluctuates in intensity across the spectrum of this exhibition, demanding an aesthetically intelligible response from the viewer. The levels of ambiguous intensity at play here, the strong references to process and the overlaying symbology throughout this tight solo show, all allude toward a certain depth and dare I say maturity in Horton’s application of paint on board.

Throughout these two distinct and yet interlocked bodies of work, the obsessive intensity of the male/female relational dichotomy is explored. The ‘primitivism’ of Horton’s mark making resonates with a seemingly common inherited human history and it is in this sense that we begin to assign meaning, conjure experience and entertain concepts through fleeting feelings of the unconscious/conscious mind at play.

Horton refuses the purity of minimal process to dominate. Instead opting for a tension that clearly exists between the background and the form of the line. There is a temporal flow to this exhibition with the heavily utilised techniques of conceal/reveal, erasure, negation and use of colour attributing an absolute authority to the primitive line as it unfolds irregardless of the edges of the board. This palpable, commanding tension between the figure ground relationship creates a minefield of uncertain dualities. One cannot help but feel the levels of controlled danger in navigating this figure ground quest for dominance, in navigating the sublimely beautiful dichotomies that exist throughout this body of work.

Through the emotive utilisation of these techniques, Horton articulates a clear understanding of the logic of minimalist painting and the materiality of her art. The pictorial intoxication that bleeds from these works lends the viewer a sense of corporeal presence that immediately intimates a certain ease with which Horton is beginning to articulate an essence of ruptured embodiment. This body of work teeters on the cusp of a Post Minimal exploration of pictorial imagining and it is this that makes Kitty Horton’s mid-career approach to laying paint on board, one to watch out for.

Header Image courtesy Kitty Horton, Paynes Grey, acrylic on board, 80x120cm, 2013.

Further Viewing, Reading and References.

Bois, Yve-Alain and Thomas Repensek. Ryman’s Tact.

Bird, Jon. Indeterminacy and (Dis) order in the work of Cy Twombly.

Hudson, Suzanne. Robert Ryman Retrospective.