Katy Kirbach's Vibrating Colors

Katy Kirbach will be teaching Color:Theory and Practice at the Berlin Drawing Room starting September 10.


'My paintings aim to create a viewing experience that is simultaneously optical and physical. They are made of painted, hand-cut strips of canvas which are attached to the stretcher and then woven together. Constructing the surface in this way creates an interdependent relationship between the ‘structure’ of the support and the ‘ornamentation’ of the painting. It also slows the pace with which each painting reveals itself.

Untitled
Oil and acrylic on woven canvas
50cm x 40cm
2019

I am attracted to colors that appear to glow or to reflect light. Fluorescent colors are aggressive and speedy, while also being the least light-fast pigments, aging into softer versions of themselves. Silver can appear innocuously dull one moment and radiant the next, affected by light source and movement.

Untitled
Oil and acrylic on woven canvas
50cm x 40cm
2019

Several years ago, when I was first preparing to teach a Color Theory course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I went through Josef Albers Interaction of Colorand made examples of each exercise outlined in his book. I wanted to make sure I fully understood all of the principles he was outlining, so that I could select the exercises I thought would be most useful to students. The exercises in the Interaction of Colorare rigorous; I had been working with color for many years, but Albers’ exercises challenged me, by asking me to look, and then look again. Many of his exercises are optical magic: discovering how to make one color look like two different colors, and then how to make two colors look like one; learning how certain colors, when placed side by side, will disappear into each other, while other colors will create powerful optical vibrations.  

Image #3:
Jannowitzbrücke
Oil and acrylic on woven canvas
50cm x 40cm
2019


I found that the focus demanded in Albers’ exercises had a profoundly freeing effect on how I approached color in my own studio practice. Surprisingly, the rigor of the exercises allowed for a new level of playfulness in my paintings. I already had specific ways in which I was using color in my work, but the exercises gave me a deeper understanding of the mechanics of color, allowing me greater confidence in the studio. '

- Artist Statement by Katy Kirbach