In Caroline Kent’s first solo exhibition for the Patron Gallery, “Space | Shadow | Script”, the artist eloquently mixes abstract painting, art objects and installation. The exhibition draws on the languages of interior spaces and modernism. In addition to the geometric abstract paintings, Kent painted floor plans of domestic spaces from traditional Mexican homes directly onto the gallery walls. Particular details, which she has enlarged and abstracted into modernist forms, take the installation further – these are sometimes painted on the walls, sometimes transformed into hybrid objects of wood and paint.
Entering the gallery, you encounter Kent’s large square piece ‘The Small Hours’ (2022), a work dominated by salmon color, with abstract figures of pink and black and shimmering copper detailing. This painting and the others in Kent’s series leave the ground bare, a departure from the dark backgrounds she has worked with in the past. These chromatic paintings are created with precision and fully saturated colors. In many, the colors seem to shine directly on the naturally brown Belgian linen.
Moving through the next two gallery spaces, Kent introduces domestic interior murals and wooden wall objects into the paintings. Carefully installed to overlap the soft gray floor plans, the pieces are not hung at traditional gallery height. They create a layered array. You naturally find yourself hunting between the painting and the floor plan, trying to discover landmarks in between. None seem to emerge too quickly, yet they live together in symbiosis.
Two hybrid wooden pieces are the most fascinating works in the exhibition. Richly stained smooth walnut surfaces have cut-out geometric shapes, where Kent has inserted linen canvas to fill them. “A Memory I Have of a Letter You Wrote…” (2022) features two vertical rectangles of canvas adorned with diagonal blue stripes of acrylic paint. Between them is a receding abstract shape. The grain of the wood flows seamlessly over the surface and expertly routed section. “The Secret That Only Comes Out in a Whisper” (2022) also includes two vertical canvas rectangles and a third canvas shape that approximates an irregular triangle – if the top was cut off and one side turned into a wavy line. These canvases are more soberly decorated with shapes in bright green.
This series highlights a new sense of restraint on Kent’s part. Its choice of colors and their rich saturation mesmerize against the natural linen. The works here are clearly rooted in the history of geometric abstraction, but morph into something entirely Kent’s own. She makes the gallery the site of a multi-faceted conversation about abstraction, modernism and interior design. This exhibition reveals a disciplined evolution of Kent’s work. (Jacqueline WayneGuite)
« Space | Shadow | Script” is on view at the Patron Gallery, 1612 West Chicago, through November 5.