Canadian, b. 1980, Montreal, Canada, based in London, United Kingdom
Allison Katz is a painter who investigates and pushes the conventions and history of Western painting. Her work rejects formal or thematic coherence—within the picture plane or throughout the artist’s oeuvre—and therefore resists the labeling of a style. Avoiding narrative or continuity, the artist instead chooses to approach each canvas anew, taking on different personas, and sometimes forcing opposing tastes to coexist uncomfortably within a single tableau. Motifs do reappear—black pears, strawberries, monkeys, noses, silhouettes, roosters, clocks—but less as representations or signatures, and more as a visual lexicon which allows her to expand and distort their meanings in an ongoing meditation on the nature of representation and the elasticity of symbols. Exemplary of her dedication to approaching subjects freshly, Adele is a portrait series that Katz has continued to return to since 2011. Painted on leather swatches, the artist does not wish to portray a continuing likeness or demeanor of her friend, but rather to capture her impression of the sitter each time they meet. Marked by skillful improvisation, her painting is often described as exuding a playful wittiness, or “joie d’esprit.”
Katz’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Johan Berggren Gallery in Malmö, Sweden, Battat Contemporary in Montreal, and BFA Boatos in Sao Paulo. She has also been included in group exhibitions at ScuptureCenter in New York, and Tate Britain in London (as part of a performance by Tai Shani). She is the recipient of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant.