Brooklyn, NY -- Fueled by her efforts to find resolution with death and suffering, Katharine Hopkins has appropriated artistic traditions of the 17th century in a fresh, contemporary manner. Her latest series of large paintings depict big game and Western animals, incongruously elegant in death and each in brilliant blues, greens, or purples. This new body of work, That Perfectly Shaped Mouth, Hopkins' second solo exhibition at 440 Gallery, opens to the public on April 4 and runs through May 12, 2013. The opening reception will be held on Friday, April 5, 6:00-9:00 pm.
As a Colorado native, Hopkins was drawn to images of iconic Western animals, such as deer and wolves, for their mythic quality in the history of the American West. In choosing these animals as symbols of mortality and suffering, she follows in the tradition of Vanitas, a genre of still life painting at its height in the Netherlands during the early 17th century. These paintings used symbols of death to remind viewers of the transience of life and the vanity of earthly achievements. For Hopkins, however, painting this subject provides a process of finding acceptance and peace with mortality, and that all suffering is transient, as well.
Hopkins' painting technique is heavily influenced by her academic training in printmaking. Her keen interest in surface quality is evident in the way she applies and manipulates oil paint on paper. She places each subject on a field of stark white without a context. The intense colors are unexpected and evocative given the subject matter. The combination of pure color and expansive white background creates an abstraction; it is Hopkins' attempt to capture a dream-like detachment that comes in moments when confronting tragedy, shock, or mourning. The results are images that hover over the boundary between beauty and the repulsion normally associated with death.
The 440 Gallery is located at 440 Sixth Avenue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, between 9th and 10th Streets, and is convenient to the F, G, and R subways. The gallery is open on Thursday and Friday, 4-7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 11 am - 7 pm, or by appointment.