In STIRRED AIR, Mahoney has brought her expertise in the classical technique of fresco painting to a new and radical end. Traditional fresco is the stuff of walls and architecture; meticulously placed fine pigments on heavily built-up layers of plaster on masonry. Here Mahoney has turned that on its head, using rice paper, the lightest of supports, to which she applies pigments not with a brush but with the wind itself.
Working in a small mountain village in the foothills of the French Alps, where the mistral can sustain blows of 25-50 miles-per-hour, the process of creating these wind paintings is most reminiscent of action painters like Jackson Pollock. Mahoney’s engagement with the elements is dynamic and exhilarating, as is the result.
There are traditions in art of collaborations with nature. Artists like Robert Smithson and Andy Goldsworthy come to mind, with their direct interventions in the landscape. Others have made “paintings” from canvases left in riverbeds. Photographer Matthew Brandt collects water from the photographed subjects of his “Lakes and Reservoirs” series and uses it to process the resulting prints. But one is hard-pressed to think of another example of an artist who works with natural elements and forces in such an actively collaborative and agile way.
By virtue of its process of creation, Mahoney’s work carries a certain power from the implicitly unmediated “truth” of indexical representation. But there are even more compelling associations.
Photography, in its earliest forms, was arguably the most indexical visual medium in its pursuit of an objective depiction of “reality.” Modern photographic practices and contemporary analyses have put the lie to that early idealistic notion. But in the beginning it was heralded for what was believed to be its pure representation of the world.
Mahoney’s wind “paintings” can be seen as ur-photographs; photographs of the wind itself. Like in photography, Mahoney coats a substrate (rice paper) with a sensitizing medium (plaster). But rather than the reflected photons of photography, she allows the wind to bombard it with pure pigments, themselves intrinsically of the earth, in a direct, indexical representation of its tangible, if incorporeal, presence.
Yes, she chooses the colors, how wet to make them, whether to squirt or toss them, when and in what direction. That is what makes it a collaboration, a pas de deux rather than a solo. But what a collaborator she has discovered in the wind. Wind that itself is a product of the forces of land mass, shape and texture, of temperature and humidity which are energized by the sun and, through the Coriolis effect, is also a product of the motion of the planet.
Unlike the slow-time natural forces that act on earthworks, or creations of artists like Terry Fugate-Wilcox, this is a temperamental and forceful collaborator that, often as not, “rejects” in real-time Mahoney’s attempts to place color and pattern. To her chagrin it has even been known to literally snatch a finished piece out of her hands and crush and smash it beyond recovery.
To anthropomorphize the wind may be foolhardy, but it is to make this point. It is a serious thing when your “partner” can, quite literally, throw your efforts back in your face. Can, in fact, completely destroy what you have been working on. To cede that power, to accept that risk, and to end up with works of aesthetic beauty and conceptual depth, work that is so personal and yet so connected to greater, universal forces, is no mean feat.
Brian J. Mattlin
New York City, August 2016
At the same time Mahoney was creating the wind paintings outdoors she commenced a series of indoor still life pieces. Focused on objects found within her home and studio, they are painted without the use of a brush, but rather with a palette knife. These scenes of quiet, structured, indoor environs were created as tonal counterpoints to the wild, near out-of-control wind paintings.
Kaye Mahoney is a Thai born Australian American artist. She is now based in Sydney and France after having spent 20 years in New York. Mahoney’s expressive tools are wide ranging and include painting, video, installations, text based works, sounds and conceptual art. Her work draws on various influences from her multi cultural background including Fluxus, John Cage and minimalism as well as her strong interest in music resulting in an intermedia approach that often incorporates art and music. Kaye completed her BA/LLB (Hons) degree at Australian National University and her Master of Fine Arts at New York Academy of Art. She also completed a Diploma in Fresco and Mural Techniques at Il Laboratorio per Affresco in Italy. She has exhibited in New York, New Jersey, Miami and various parts of Italy and France and had her major debut exhibition in Australia, "Moving Imagery", at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery.
1977 -83 Australian National University, Australia, BA/LLB (Hons)
1992 -1995 New York Academy of Art, New York, MFA
1996 Il Laboratorio per Affresco, Italy, Diploma in Fresco and Mural Techniques
Selected solo exhibitions and mural commissions
2016 “Start Here” (upcoming exhibition at Leslie Heller Gallery New York)
2013 “Counterpoint” Art Atrium, Sydney
2013 Kaye Mahoney, Recent Works, NMA Gallery and Showroom, New York
2011 “Moving Imagery”, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Goulburn, Australia
2010 “Variations”, La Porta Gallery, Buonconvento, Italy
2009 “Harmonic Motion”, Gallery Infinart, Victoria, Australia
2008 “Scores and Progressions”, Dillon Gallery, Chelsea, New York,
2004 Island, Burns Rd, Shelter Island, NY
1998 Journey, White Street Project, New York
1996 Lunette, Villa Rucellai, Prato, Italy
1994 Orion, La Vieille Ferme Des Guerchs, Roquefort Les Pins, France
1992 Constellation, Bang, Miami, Florida
Selected Group Exhibitions
2015 Summer Sojourn, Art Atrium, Sydney
2014 Chinese Whispers, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, Goulburn, NSW
2014 Art 3K, Art Atrium, Sydney
2014 I Was Therefore I Am, Hong Kong House, Sydney
2013 A4, Gallery A4, Sydney
2013 30th Anniversary Celebration Show, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery
2013 Snake Snake Snake, Town Hall, Sydney, Australia
2012 Art 3K, Art Atrium
2012 Illuminate, Brightspace, Melbourne, Australia
2009 Sumei Multidisciplinary Art Center, Newark, New Jersey
2009 A Book about Death Emily Harvey Art Foundation, Soho, New York
2009 Gallery@28, Sydney, Australia
2009 Mais qui est Paul? La Maison, Galerie Singuliere, Nice, France
2009 Dillon Gallery Chelsea, New York
2008 Salle Artisanale, Vieux Pierrefeu, France
2007 Bridge Art Fair, Miami
2007 Emily Harvey Art Foundation, Soho, New York
2006 Copilandia, Sevilla, Spain
2004 Cue Art Foundation, Chelsea, New York
2002 Food for Thought, Sumei Multidisciplinary Art Center, Newark, New Jersey
2001 I love New York, Kagan Martos Gallery, New York
1998 Beyond Appropriation: Dialogues with Visual Tradition, New York Academy of Art, Tribeca, New York
1996 Dinostore, Sydney, Australia
Oceania Arts Festival, New York
1994 Take Home a Nude, New York Academy of Art
1994 Selected Frescoes, Designs and Sketches, Commune di Prato, Italy
1993 Take Home a Nude, New York Academy of Art, New York
2002 Selected for artist workshop program at Sumei Multidiscipinary Arts Center
2000 Artist residency at Il Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainella, Tuscany
“I Was, Therefore I am”, Reddose, 2014
“A Surface Lives”, Art & Australia, Vol 49 no 3, Autumn 2012
The Canberra Times, 22 October 2011
Goulburn Post, 14 October 2011
Moving Imagery Education Kit, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, October 2011
“Moving Imagery”, Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, October 2012
Review - Corriere di Siena, Italy, 3 July 2010
“Newark’s Sumei Centre reborn in New Digs Looks to the Future”, Newark Star Ledger, Newark, NJ, USA, 16 November 2009
“Art in Motion”, Midland Express, Australia, March 17, 2009
La Infiltracion, January, Spain, 2006
La Republica Delle Donne, Italy, 2003
La Lunetta Della Porta Mercatale, Reggione Toscana, Italy,1995,
Quaderni Dell’Arte, No.4,1994
Ekkoprato, October, 1994
“Insight”, Elle Australia, 1994
La Nazione, July, 1994
Il Tirreno, July, 1994
La Nazione, June, 1994
La Voce, June, 1994
New Times, January, 1993
Entertainment News and Views, January, Miami, 1993
Allygroup Sydney, Australia
Centro de Arte de Sevilla, Seville, Spain
4 Elements Music, New York, USA
Freight Train Music, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, NSW, Australia
Baylor All Saints Medical Center, Fort Worth, Texas, USA
St Anthony’s Hospital, Lakewood, Colorado, USA
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