Allison Katz’s (b. 1980, Montreal, Canada) exhibition at Camden Art Centre will be the London-based artist’s first institutional solo show in London.
For more than a decade, Katz has been exploring painting’s relationship to questions of identity and expression, selfhood and voice. Animated by a restless sense of humour and curiosity, her works articulate a tricksy language of recurring forms – roosters, monkeys and cabbages, among other things – that are by turns familiar and enigmatic, and through which the artist’s sustained and critical pursuit of “genuine ambiguity” takes shape. The work for Artery was developed over the last two years, in parallel with the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new paintings, posters and exhibition design are infused with questions of communication and connection, distancing and intimacy.
For Katz, “Artery” is a resonant and loaded title: she says: “I want to emphasise the non-order of things, from inside to out”. As such, the exhibition is preoccupied by the concept of networks and channels, by the spaces between inside and outside, experience and image; and by painting’s traditional relationship to the haptic, that is, to not-touching.
The exhibition is a collaboration with Nottingham Contemporary, where it was shown in its first iteration in 2021, and it responds to the particularities of the gallery spaces of both venues, treating the buildings as porous bodies: organisms that extend both above and below, inside and out. In Nottingham, the exhibition burrowed underground to a network of subterranean caves beneath the gallery building. At Camden Art Centre, it will be reimagined for the specificities of the galleries, expanded with a substantial new body of paintings, and includes an off-site presentation at the Canadian High Commission on Trafalgar Square. Here, in the gallery at Canada House, Katz sets up an abundant installation drawn from her extensive archive of announcement posters that she has been creating in relation to her exhibitions for over a decade. Works in their own right, the same references that appear in Katz’s paintings spill off and into the posters, circulating in and feeding-back from the network and sensibility of advertising and graphic design. The construction of images as posters operates within an expanded practice as a way of playfully approaching protocols and procedures of typography, language and graphics.
Across these all of these sites, Katz’s autofiction unfolds through a series of biographical anecdotes and moments of synchronicity or coincidence. Drawing from her family history, including the meeting place of her maternal grandparents in Nottingham, and the coincidental address of Katz’s childhood home on Finchley Road, Hampstead, Quebec, (shared with Camden Art Centre, on Finchley Road, Hampstead, London), a kind of origin story unfolds through the production of unlikely images, pictures that emerge through a very personal enquiry into identity, name and place.