The Flooding Lake fuses geography, personal narrative, and cultural history, eliciting moments that sit outside of convention and language. The paintings capture magical moments in life, a confluence of subjectivity, nature, light, memory, irony, religiosity and ecstasy. Blackburne’s work reflects her ongoing preoccupations with the non-human world – our human embeddedness within, our various alienations from it, and to the extent to which we might belong to it.
The forests in her paintings are fluid and permeable, a space where temporality and perspective collapse. Nature appears devoid of consciousness yet strangely animated. Within these landscapes, she summons figures which invoke both polytheistic ritual and images. The paintings move simultaneously within and against traditions of landscape painting and religious art.
Influenced by her upbringing in Australia, Blackburne’s use of landscape recognizes how colonial history intersects with a much longer indigenous history. As a child, the Aboriginal notions of ‘country’ (expressed in the worldview of the Dreamtime and the framework of interconnectivity within the land known as ‘Song Lines’) provided a language for her to understand and contemplate the palpable and sentient presence of the bush and the outback.
Through the juxtaposition of phenomenal truths and inner belief the provenance and durability of certain motifs about femininity, particularly motherhood, are tested. Motherhood itself becomes a precipice for transformation, and from this rocky outcrop it becomes clear how easily women's bodies are and have been co-opted in service of mysticism and religiosity. These bodies become stitched to pagan ritual and rite to develop an understanding of Blackburne’s own body as a portal, as a permeable, osmotic opening into inexplicably riotous moments of life.
Katherine Blackburne was born in London and raised in Australia. She lives and works in New York, where she has recently received her MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Her work has been featured in The Night Quarter, Mother Culture, New York (2022, solo); Otherwise, curated by Carlota Ortiz-Monasterio, Ho Won Kim, and Victoria Horrocks, Half Gallery, New York (2022); Noumena, curated by Sally Eaves Hughes, Emmanuel OlumKwa and Caroline Maxwell, ChaShaMa, New York (2022); Dungeon Dwellers, Skylight Gallery, Columbia University, New York (2022); and Big Ringer, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York (2021).