Katherine Kadish: A Geography of Color
Ruschman Art Gallery
Through April 30
It shouldn't matter, and it doesn't. But the fact that Katherine Kadish has struggled with macular degeneration, an ocular disease that affects eyesight, may account for her looser interpretation of form and structure when it comes to painting. Kadish, whose exhibition A Geography of Color is on view at Ruschman Art Gallery through April 30, is considered one of the stalwarts of visual art in her hometown area of Dayton (she lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and New York City, and has exhibited internationally). In her first-time solo exhibition here, she offers a solid grasp of visual elements, especially when it comes to color, that betray in no negative way a challenge in seeing. In fact, to the contrary. Work by Katherine Kadish is on view at Ruschman through the end of the month.
Kadish paints as if her fingertips, and by extension her paintbrush, are infused with brightness - even if her eyes are not. Kadish's work is all about color. But she wouldn't be able to pull off such fantastic chromatic orchestration if it weren't for an equally facile ability to construct shapes on paper or canvas. Kadish veers from an almost dusty, muted aesthetic - still utilizing the lighter shades - to a more eye-popping variety, both of which bring life to her abstracted forms.
It's become a bit tried to compare artists who employ figurative abstraction with Dr. Seuss (who was an artist in his own right), but here a comparison screams out for recognition: In "Ladders," Kadish's world is a bizarre and carefree one, where, if figures were to be had, they would be ascending and descending her quirky ladders in a lighthearted reverie. But there are no figures - unless they're the happenstance of a casual application of orb against orb. And besides, Kadish's ladders may have a more self-reflective psychological significance.
Kadish seems to approach her art from the standpoint of a still life artist who interprets rather than renders. "Nine" is a grid of canvases, each of which stands alone and connects with its neighbors. Each is a still life gone wild. Pomegranates? Oranges? Papaya? Who can tell, exactly? These fruits are indiscriminate and luscious. We may not want to eat them, but we drink them in with our senses.
Artists who tackle abstraction must achieve a delicate balance between chaos and order. If there's too much order, then we have geometry; if there isn't enough, we have a mess. Kadish appears to merge the two almost effortlessly, no doubt the result of years of dedicated practice and the increase in confidence that goes along with it. If her eyesight challenges have had an impact on her work, it's a positive one, a loosening of the need to control each visual element, perhaps, and a learned ability to step back and let one's voice have its say. Kadish's voice rings loud and clear.
A Geography of Color, new paintings and monotypes by Katherine Kadish, is on view at Ruschman Art Gallery, 948 N. Alabama. Call 634-3114 for information. Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.