Transcending boundaries through painting: Rendlesham by Kate Sherman at Onca, Brighton, November 2016

kate-sherman-rendleshamThis beautiful exhibition of oil paintings shows us a wonderful capability of painting: reflection of the transcendant. The gallery setting (a white box housing objects of reverence) is already reminiscent of a church. Then, a style of painting provides us with a reflective experience that dissolves our everyday boundaries, and puts us somehow in touch with the transcendental, the sublime, or whatever metaphor for the infinite you choose. When we can feel the infinite, our boundaries are dissolved. The boundary that defines our ego; the boundary that defines our body. We feel a sort of powerless joy at being part of an indescribable magnificence. It’s what we feel when we allow ourselves to lose ourselves in nature. Artists can capture this feeling, as Turner did in his paintings of stormy skies of Hannibal crossing the Alps. We get a sense of of this in Kate Sherman’s studies of Rendlesham Forest. Though the scenery is more modest than the Alps, a small, local forest in fact, the dissolving of boundaries likewise carries us off into a dreamy reflection. The photo above doesn’t really do justice, but you can see how the illuminated sky dissolves the branches of the trees into a delicate lace. The colour of the sky changes imperceptibly from pale peach to pale cyan; the boundary is invisible. Painting offers artists a control over colour that photographers emulate, but can’t match: precise mixing of colour from natural pigments, rather than approximation through photographic chemical or computer screens. These paintings by Kate Sherman capture an atmosphere that I might call super-real.

The notes to the show say that Kate has had a lifetime association with the forest, and that is is her main subject.

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