Kathryn MacNaughton

Canadian artist Kathryn MacNaughton deftly interweaves figurative painting with a combination of abstract expressionism, geometric abstraction, and even conventions of the painted still-life into one poetic statement. Here, these forms of figuration and still life have been flattened, like their more abstract counterparts, to face the frontal plane of the canvas. In this sense, the canvas – and the analog process of the painter’s hand – references the computer screen and the digital touch, where these pieces originally begin to take their shape. She states: I wanted my digital work to look raw and handmade. Now that I create “physical” paintings, I want to give the illusion that the work is digital. MacNaughton, who trained and worked as a graphic designer, uses this sort of ‘digital compression’ to her advantage, and one begins to use typically post-analog language when discussing her work: masking, layering, colour-blocking, silhouette. Here these concepts are paired with more Romantic expressive movements: a scribble dances across a bust, outlined in silhouette, which guides the viewer’s eye around the flattened curves as one guides the finger across a map. The work simultaneously houses a sensuality one aligns with gender tropes: as suggestions of feminine curves play shadow-tricks, appearing as vessels or curtains that guide the eye, but also obscure and reveal the picture plane while painterly splatters and curves leap behind and before the picture plane. But also the masculine, referencing brutalist and Modernist architecture: the austerity and monolithic qualities of shape, form, and line, or perhaps even the sharp angles of cacti in the desert. We see references from Robert Morris to Georgia O’Keefe; Diebenkorn to DiChirico, and even a cheeky reference to the highly stylized drawings of Patrick Nagel (more colloquially known as the artist who made Playboy ‘drawings’ iconic of the entire 1980s). The work therefore works in polarities: analog and post-analog mark-making (ie: the painterly and the digital); feminine and masculine; pragmatism and Romanticism; expressiveness and obfuscation; light and dark. There is a sense of theatricality to her revelations, and it is, in every sense, a cheeky play of light and dark versus form and technique, like boxing with one’s own shadow – an art of individual, delicate mastery.

KATHRYN MACNAUGHTON (b. 1985, Toronto, Canada) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. She graduated from Ontario College of Art and Design in 2007. Solo exhibitions include: Past Pleasures, Galería Pelaires, Mallorca, Spain (2022); Full Body, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2022); Into the Groove, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto, Canada (2021); ​Heatwave, BEERS London (2020);​ Intervals, BEERS London (2018); Fixed State, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto (2018); Sprang, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto (2016); and Blue Note, Huntclub Gallery, Toronto (2015). Group exhibitions include: Island Time, Volery Gallery, Dubai (2022); Organized Chaos, Magma Gallery, Bologna, Italy (2019); Pour, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2019); Your Favourite Artist’s Favourite Artist II, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2019); Dualities: A Bridge Between Two Worlds, Bau-Xi Gallery, Toronto (2017); SMASH, Gardiner Museum, Toronto (2016); and The One That Got Away, Artscape Youngplace, Toronto (2015). Fairs include: Future Fair New York, BEERS London, New York (2022). Residencies include: Pada Studios, Lisbon (2019). Macnaughton’s work has been featured in publications such as Elle Magazine, District-W Magazine, and The Coveteur.


Participating Exhibitions

Participating Fairs