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Kathryn Altus: Some Seas

Lisa Harris Gallery
Seattle WA – Jun 3-28, 2010

Kathryn Altus, Tanker Traffic

Kathryn Altus, Tanker Traffic (2010), water-based oil on canvas [Lisa Harris Gallery, Seattle WA, Jun 3-28]

Kathryn Altus, Hydro Electric

Kathryn Altus, Hydro Electric (2010), water-based oil on canvas [Lisa Harris Gallery, Seattle WA, Jun 3-28]

In her new exhibition, Some Seas, Seattle-based painter Kathryn Altus presents scenes of coastal waters from the Pacific Northwest, Asia and the Middle East. The theme allows water to act as a continuum across time and distance, and to unify such remote places as the Dead Sea and the Columbia River. Although Altus paints specific sites, she states, “…my wish is to transcend place and to address the interrelationship of nature and civilization.” 

Her most ambitious piece, Big Pacific, is a large-scale work in five panels of graduating sizes. The painting depicts the span of ocean from the Washington coastline to Hong Kong. The panorama recalls a journey and the vastness she suggests is very alluring. Altus' soft-focus painting style and gentle palette is reminiscent of artwork done in pastels. It lends a dreamlike mood to her compositions and further connects subjects from different locales.

Sometimes Altus uses copper leaf in her oil paintings, which adds depth and luminosity to the surfaces. The quiet transitions she achieves between form and ground are built up over time with multiple glazes. She gives as much attention to the open spaces as she does to the landscape forms. The subdued tone of her work and ability to reduce the landscape to subtle gradations of colour and form evoke a solace that is contemplative and inviting.

Allyn Cantor

 Sun, Jun 6, 2010