By WM, July 2023
Gallerist and artist Kathleen Kucka has made a name for herself in the NYC abstract scene since the 1990s, garnering recognition for her conceptual approach to modernist formalism. Kucka embraced a hands-on method of mark marking, burning and puncturing her canvas with domestic tools such as irons and sewing needles to create spatial and sensory experiences that transcended traditional two-dimensional boundaries.
Since then, Kucka's practice has continued to evolve, merging physicality and materiality into a cohesive visual language. Additionally, she recently established her own gallery, Furnace-Art on Paper Archive, in Falls Village, Connecticut, to engage new audiences with her well-known network of contemporary abstract painters.
A current solo exhibition of Kucka’s work, Strange Attractor, on view at Heather Gaudio Fine Art in New Canaan, CT, presents a selection of painting and works-on-paper that reflect on the artist’s time spent away from the city, inspired by the dark nights, planet gazing, and fractals, the works on display were created by employing a hand-held burn tool to mark geometric grids and painted circular patterns, emphasizing the interplay between the physical and visual components of her practice.
Strange Attractor will be on view until July 22, 2023.
Could you tell us a bit about the exhibition title Strange Attractor? What drew you to this name and how it connects to the artworks on display?
Strange Attractor became the title of the exhibition after thinking about forces in nature that we can’t truly explain or understand. The Big Bang theory, gravity, the cosmos. As Einstein once said about quantum entanglement, “spooky action at a distance.”
Your work showcases a broad range of materials and techniques. Can you share a bit about your creative process and how you bring all these different elements together to create a cohesive body of work?
This body of work, made between 2020 and 2023, uses a burning process that I have utilized in the past, but here I explore a new way to “scorch” the canvas surface. Making straight lines and building a network of burn marks becomes the primary layer in the making of the paintings. Flashe paint is the top layer, and the circle pattern is used and repeated.
Could you share some insights into how nature influences your artistic process and what elements we can observe in the exhibition?
Nature is the first influencer. The night sky, the network of veins in leaves. The geometry of honeycomb. Right outside my studio we have 5 beehives and seeing the bees work to make honey and honeycomb is captivating. Bees communicate extraordinarily well with each other, but they have innate knowledge about how to make hexagonal geometric honeycomb to store honey and use as a nursery for making new bees.
In addition to being an artist, you also run your own gallery called "Furnace-Art on Paper Archive." Could you share with us what motivated you to establish your own gallery and what it's like for you to navigate the dual roles of being an artist and a gallery owner?
In 2020 when we all went into lock down during the earliest days of the Covid pandemic, I was in my studio in Falls Village, CT and away from my New York City apartment and studio. I had an art exhibition that was just installed and ready to open.
I needed a connection to a new community and a way to interact with art in real life. I found this beautiful gallery space on the main street in Falls Village and could see right away an intimate art viewing space. I was hooked and spent the winter making a website and setting up the space. The gallery opened in the Spring of 2021.
Being hands on with the showing of artists’ work is a privilege and it feeds my soul and my art practice. I know intimately how artists feel when they have an exhibition. How they want the opportunity to show their work and someone to connect with their process and journey. For me it brings the art experience full circle.
Any upcoming projects we should know about, either at Furnace or involving your own career as an artist?
Along with running Furnace – Art on Paper Archive, I have been very inspired in the studio and made a new body of work that is currently in a one-person exhibition at Heather Gaudio Fine Art, in New Canaan, CT. In August I will have some new paintings in a three-person exhibition at Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Kent, CT. Furnace – Art on Paper Archive – Rafael Vega: Moving Target July 15 – August 20. WM