Katherine Spindler: Selah
Opening speech by Dominique Edwards
I have found the writing of this piece particularly challenging. How does one attribute language, in the format of the spoken word, as descriptive of a visual-experience, essentially – to a feeling? One that I do not choose to distance myself from in an objectively dissociative manner. Add to that a familiarity with Katherine’s work that has over the course of the last few years become somewhat intuitive and internalised and further informed by witnessing the making of this work, not only in its’ physical manifestation, but also in conversation with Katherine. My response to this work is intrinsically informed by all of the aforementioned; I have not been able to separate these waters, though the exercise in trying to do so has been enlightening.
I would therefore like to thank Katherine for providing me with the opportunity to spend time with her work. To look, think and feel my way through the time she has spent in its making.
Katherine paints what appears to be a hand waving a hanky. The implied movement of the wrist seems to suggest the act of painting. The gesture of the paintbrush – in turn – a performance of some sorts evokes for me the image of a small choir, orchestrated by a gentle hand. Palm cast open, the poetic materiality of the handkerchief evoked here:
a small, square, white sheet of cloth, a quiet item, a surrender of some sorts, a beacon, place and point, a marker, an object that speaks of loss, grief, the practical and mundane activity of the everyday, of sickness and prayer…this materiality – I find embodied throughout the show, emerging as an empty page in an open book of songs, a ream of paper scattered, suspended, windswept, a recurring luminous white curtain, dissolving on occasion into the surface of the painting and returning as a subsurface, an overcast sky that might as well be a dark night or a dense burst of rain, bust most likely – the ocean.
To me, Katherine holds the sea – and when thinking about holding, in this context – I cannot help but consider the artists’ hand – the knowledge it seems to hold and simultaneously seek, revealed in that moment where the brush is instantly lifted and the paint remains untouched.
In light of the impossibility of being able to physically hold water. The canvas, in turn, becomes a place where a moment seeks to be found, held and seen. The treatment of paint here is layered, the artists’ hand dissolves into the water, the curtain loses its edge, and Katherine subsequently transforms the figure into the ground – the surface emerging as one that is gently padded, gently spread and folded, carefully handled – one hand above and another below, carried across the living room floor, where the object in her hand becomes a shell, something she lifts to her ear – there to where the ocean spills into her world, and into the realm of “the outside.”
Katherine navigates an intimate and uncertain place, one that exists in paint, on surface, canvas and paper – and is subject to the thud, scrape, and intermittently soothing stroke of the brush. Somewhere in there, is a gentle pause, a distant sound, a moment suspended – something that requires us to look, so that we might hear. Katherine provides us with just a sense. We do not need to know what we are looking at, we do not require the detail, only enough information for what we think we are looking at to manifest in our minds eye, and roam there.
These waters cannot be named, there is no means by navigating them other than by way of body – and what I mean here, when referring to body – is the body as a first place, a place inhabited – a place that holds other places, an interior world.
This constant negotiation of the interior as ever present, as one that is explored by means of peering into – and always from. What do we find in this place of no-place? From the depths of the ocean at its floor, a blackness of the deepest blue – the weight of its water bracing the cavity of one’s chest – this little bit of hollowness, this little bit of space that holds itself and is the body? Viewed from the hull of a ship, from across a kitchen table, beyond a curtain, into the night. These modalities of looking into the non-descript – are for me, that of turning inward. Katherine draws our attention to the body, here we can peer into the vessel, the shell she lifts to her ear, the suggested piano her figures in their inability to see hear and or speak find themselves beached on. It is here where one might recognise the foghorn, that distant sound calling you into being.
A sensory experience, immersive and enveloping. Katherine Spindler has managed to, by means of evoking painting as a way of seeking, thinking and ultimately – being – create a contemplative space for her viewer, one of in-dwelling. Somewhere between the suggestion of a pause and the intake of a breath, somewhere between waking and waiting – and where, if so inclined, we are able to momentarily dwell.
Thank you Katherine.