Katrina Blannin, Double Hexad - Black Pink, 2013. Acrylic on linen; 60 x 50 cm.
To celebrate its launch, Traction interviewed five artists featured in 2013′s ‘The Future Can Wait’, London’s annual curated exhibition to coincide with Frieze Week. One of them was London-based artist Katrina Blannin.
How does your use of geometry facilitate the clarity of form that prevails in your paintings?
The geometric forms are generated from drawings that always start with a grid, which provides the armature for the main structure. Lines are drawn from one corner to the other or from the centers – sometimes grid squares are bisected. Symmetry and asymmetry are essential considerations – all the moves and decisions taken throughout the process are somehow repeated on the opposite side, whether they are mathematical or regarding layers of color and tone. I have built up a set of rules by which to work by – actually a methodology that is slowly evolving. This involves experimenting and researching new visual ideas all the time, and I am still asking a lot of questions. I am certainly looking for a way of working that will produce paintings that have a logical clarity, compositional and material interest, and which ultimately work phenomenologically in some way – at least that’s what I hope for!
A subtle dissonance is introduced to the balance of your compositions when you work in triptychs and diptychs. How do these devices allow you to further explore form?
Working with a series of permutations, sequences or with mirror images, rather than a single image, can inspire ideas about movement - I think I would call it a kind of visual ‘dance’. But also as you say a kind of dissonance because you never quite know how each panel will fit together if the original structure has an unevenness. It can also bring a complexity to the paintings, which can be interesting. I have also recently brought in sharply colored linear edges and this has allowed me to work with thinner washes and closer tones and still retain structure in the composition – another element to play with.
Katrina Blannin, Double Hexad-Black Grey Naples, 2013. Acrylic on linen; 60 x 50 cm.
Alongside your artistic practice, you co-run The Lion & The Lamb Gallery in London. How does this curatorial collaboration feed into your practice?
At the moment the Lion & Lamb is more than a gallery for painters to curate painting shows. It’s also an opportunity for artists to meet up, discuss what is going on, debate, argue, and get to together to organize more shows elsewhere – and we’ve had some brilliant talks. We can’t compete with galleries run in a conventional way but we can help generate interest for everyone involved. I think communication is important – painting isn’t supposed to be impenetrable and perhaps we all need to try and be more articulate about what we are doing.
Both your artistic and curatorial work demonstrates a commitment to painting. Can you describe how your particular approach to the medium sits within its broader context?
I have always been drawn to painting – how to convey something pictorially. There is so much to learn about and learn from. I am interested in the purely ‘visual’ or the ‘formal’ – aesthetics I guess – and that can mean getting into a discussion about any kind of painting ever painted throughout history: anything from Navajo sand paintings to early Florentine panel painting to Ad Reinhardt. Abstract painting is such an exciting challenge, still relatively new and still difficult for the world to take on. Generally, we all seem to find it hard to evaluate and elevate painting adequately and I think it is going to be interesting to see whether the art world will ever get on track with this…
What is coming up next for you?
I am excited about working for Turps Banana again next year on their Correspondence Course as a mentor and there are a couple of group shows being discussed. I hope to finish my short review of the Mira Schendel show at the Tate soon.
Katrina Blannin’s work can be seen at The Future Can Wait at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Square, London WC1B 4DA until 17 October and The Discipline of Painting at Harrington Mill Studios, Harrington Mill Nottingham NG10 4QE until 27 October.
Visit her website for more information on her practice.