Skip to main content

Katy Dove

What is initially most striking about this retrospective overview of the late Katy Dove's paintings and animations that arrives at the DCA eighteen months after her passing is just how much life bursts from everything on show. From the images of children dancing alongside strips of material that hang outside the main galleries like stills from the drama workshop montage in swinging sixties Brit-flick Georgy Girl, to the kaleidoscopic shadows of her own hands and legs in what turned out to be her final film, Meaning in Action (2013), there is little stillness anywhere in Dove's work.

Pastel-coloured shapes and patterns culled from the unconscious in a series of automatic paintings are gradually given form and definition enough to create a world in constant motion en route to an idyll. This is especially evident in Melodia (2002), a four and a half minute film in which Dove takes a watercolour landscape by her grandfather and breathes swirling life into its skies, seas and other wide-open spaces.

Disembodied numbers and letters occasionally form words as they hang at angles beside, beneath or above each other. There's a musicality at play too throughout the work that is complimented by Dove's use of sound in her films, whether it's environmental ambience, the primitive guttural rhythms of Muscles of Joy, the all-woman musical collective Dove was an integral part of on Welcome (2008), or, at its purest, her own breath.

All of which compliments a rhythmic pulse that seems to leap out of each image into little abstract dances, so Dove becomes as much a choreographer as a painter and film-maker. What is initially instinctive is crafted into something with substance and depth with a symmetry that suggests an inherent performativity which, had Dove lived beyond her forty-four years, might well have developed into actual flesh and blood steps.

In her seemingly simple fusion of fractured language, colour and movement, one is reminded at times of the similarly restless animations that would appear in children's TV show, Sesame Street. Where those had an educational intent, Dove's work seems to take pleasure in the crafting of such multi-faceted material for its own sake.

Such sheer delight can be traced right back to Fantasy Freedom (1999), a ninety-second stop-motion animation made for Dove's degree show while studying at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee. Seen next to everything else, the film is akin to Dove taking baby steps before colouring in the bright and beautiful world that followed in everything she created afterwards.

Dundee Contemporary Arts until November 20th; Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, January 7th-February 25th 2017; Thurso Art Gallery & St Fergus Gallery, Wick, March 4th-April 15th 2017.
www.dca.org.uk

Scottish Art News, November 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …