Artist Caetlynn Booth makes high chroma paintings full of patterns, reflections and hard edges. Her work "takes as its starting point an element of figurative imagery, such as grasses reflected in the swamp, or the silhouette of a swimmer," and develops this into a symbolic language of post-minimal landscape abstraction. Her often modular approach to composition and hanging reminds us that, above all, these are paintings— surfaces covered in color and arranged on a wall. This attention to matter and material extends to her choice of oil paint for "the way the color looks— molecules of pigment suspended in oil— it is an organic, three-dimensional material; how it mixes, how mediums change it, how each pigment has its own characteristics."
Often color is understood as jubilance and celebration, and in Booth's Selvage series— alternating arrangements of square, geometric patterned panels— colorful gradients are mirrored by dark counterparts. This can easily be seen as a metaphor for the duality of joy and melancholy— the way that one requires the other for balance. But perhaps it is less disingenuous to simply see the color and let it wash over you without thinking too much about how humans have evolved to find patterns (even, at times, when they are not there).
In the Fall of 2014 Booth completed a residency at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, where the swamp became a central theme in her paintings. Swamp Shimmer (2015-2016) is another multi-panel arrangement of abstracted and repeated foliage motifs that move from dark to light in the same way that day breaks over the swamp. This landscape is ripe for investigation because of its precarious future. As a liminal space between water and land, wetlands will be particularly vulnerable to erratic weather patterns. Booth says, "The swamp is a place of abstraction, metaphor, metamorphosis-- it is primordial ooze; a placid expanse; a changing climate."
Booth continues to explore themes from the swamp in her ongoing series of Sunrise Studies. In Sunrise Study 5 there is a soft gradient background out of which spring hard-edged patterned shapes, some grounded and some levitating. It's a compellingly swampy composition where symbolic aqueous forms float over colorful 'primordial ooze' and rise to a fiery golden yellow along the top edge. The high saturation and playful forms make it a joy to behold, helping navigate us towards light and levity.
Caetlynn recently closed a two-person show with painter Amy Lincoln at Project: ArtSpace in New York. In August she will be featured in Deanna Evans Project's Curated Studio Visits. And curator Tracy McKenna will be including several of her paintings in a show at Able Baker Contemporary this coming September. She tells me, “The show's theme takes The Matrix as a jumping off point and will include artists who use reflections, imperfect symmetry and pairs, and mirroring to explore the difference between simulacrum and verisimilitude to reveal their hidden truths.” Go check it out if you’re in Portland, ME this Fall and make sure to follow along on the ‘gram to see what’s next: @caetlynnbooth