Catherine Howe Exhibit Opens at Philip Slein Gallery

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

Catherine Howe—whose paintings occupy the space between figurative and abstraction—strongly reference 17th century still life paintings. Howe herself insists her works are about the power of painting itself, and are not about representation or narrative. Howe’s work backs up her assertion. Her still life paintings explode upon the canvas, and yet they simultaneously subdue and calm the viewer. A selection of Howe’s works will exhibit at Philip Slein Gallery on Friday, Jan. 10 and run through Feb. 15.

Night Painting (Phoenix), 2011, oil and beeswax on linen, 40" x 40" Catherine Howe Courtesy of the Artist

Night Painting (Phoenix), 2011, oil and beeswax on linen, 40″ x 40″
Catherine Howe
Courtesy of the Artist

Her use of still life “echoes the affinity between expressionism and vanitas painting by emphasizing living in the moment,” according to the gallery. Vanitas painting uses symbolism and is identified with 16th and 17th century artwork particularly associated with still life painting in Flanders and the Netherlands. But Howe’s work captures an eroticism that the Dutch Masters could only hint at.

The artist executes still life paintings that aren’t still at all. Her work is populated by clear glass vessels stranded in a squalls of bold brush strokes, frenetic action and splashing wine colors; luscious burgundies and glowing amber liquids against the deep black background of infinity, all seen through the haze of time as though recalling a distant memory.

Her works are also notable for paint application. Some areas might be a hasty sketch while others are thinly glazed. Still other areas feature paint layered on so thick they are almost three dimensional. She draws on a number of techniques including spills, splatters and scraping.

Howe currently teaches in the graduate department of the New York Academy, and her work has been exhibited widely in Manhattan, including solo exhibitions at Casey Kaplan Claire Oliver, Liz Koury, Bill Maynes Gallery and Littlejohn Contemporary, as well as abroad at Yukiko Kawase, Paris, and Galerie Thomas von Lintel in Munich, Germany. Her show at Lintel Gallery in Chelsea was reviewed in Art Critical and Art in America, which also spurned a catalog with essays by Michele C. Cone and John Zinsser.

The Catherine Howe exhibit opens Friday, Jan. 10, 6-8 pm. Exhibition runs through Feb. 15.

For more information visit the Philip Slein Gallery website.

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