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Heather Gaudio Fine Art is pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis Lee Mitchell and Jay McCafferty. The show opens with a public reception for the artists on June 28th, 5-7pm and will be on view through September 8th.
Using counterintuitive approaches to art making, the artists in this exhibition expose their materials and work to smoke, soot and flames. Their process-driven techniques incorporate smoldering devices and scorching (methods typically associated with destruction), making for unconventional contemplative paintings and drawings that invite the viewer’s sustained attention.
Kathleen Kucka prepares her surfaces with paint or charcoal, and uses torches, hotplates or irons to “draw” her burn on paper or canvas. She controls the process by dabbing water to maintain the desired shape and size of her burnt forms. Working steadily, Kucka structures her composition in spatially arranged linear or circular patterns, adding layers of pigment, canvas or fabric to achieve more depth and texture. The results are organized abstractions evoking thoughts of nature, destruction and re-generation. Kucka’s barn studio in upstate Connecticut allows her the space needed to do her scorching safely and undisturbed, and she then completes the work in her New York City studio.
Dennis Lee Mitchell chooses smoke as his medium, using different torches to generate the ephemeral material. The produced soot adheres onto archival paper in different forms, from wispy, hazy billowy traces to thickly dense black accumulations. At times he actually sears the paper to suggest smoldering embers.
This smoking technique, known as fumage, was a favorite practice among the Surrealists, who were all about chance and allowing the subconscious to take over the artistic process. Like the Surrealists, Mitchell’s imagery emerges from improvisation resulting in mesmerizing flower-like gestures or mysterious landscapes.
Jay McCafferty’s work varies from Kucka’s and Mitchell’s in that he uses the sunlight to ignite his burns. Working outdoors under the ever-abundant California sun, usually on a rooftop, McCafferty directs the sun rays through a magnifying glass onto vellum or very thin paper painted with blue pigments or rusted in earth tones. These solar drawings become Zen-like color field works, painstakingly punctuated throughout with tiny burn holes that create intricate honey-comb or delicate patterns. McCafferty has work at the Getty Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and MoMA in New York City.