Keltie Ferris’ first solo exhibition at the gallery, titled RELIEF, presents seven new paintings, at various scales, that use acrylic and oil, spray gun and brushes, as well as erasure and impasto to create energetic abstractions. For this series, the artist completed each piece with a custom, hand-painted frame that physically and visually combines with the painting by way of gradients and color blocking. The frames also add a third dimension, attributing them with a hefty sculptural and object-like presence.
Immediately, the exhibition projects an expressive setting of ornament and flux. The dexterity and confidence of her sweeping, lyrical marks, which are either black or grey lines, mimic the appearance of pencil marks, and are literally composed of graphite dust. These marks feel spontaneous and quick, suggestive of water or sound waves. As a result, notions of movement, speed, and technology come to mind.
Between the French curve contours, Ferris builds-up thick areas of oil paint relief. However, just as she adds this dimension she redacts her process as well by wiping away areas of the imagery. The swath she cuts through the paint, via solvent drenched rag, gives an impression of weaving or carving while also exaggerating and complicating the relationships between figure and ground. Some of the impasto sections are tiled in a grid fashion that lend a mosaic feel but also one of contrast between structure and flow.
Consequently, the paintings in form a group of muscular abstractions that vibrate with contrasts of medium application, color combinations, and compositional maneuvers. With each piece, Ferris lives somewhere in the middle of precision and intuition, calibrating the effects of various alterations that vacillate from subtle to shrill, but always manage to land solidly at a poetic, sculptural image.
RELIEF, 2019. Photography courtesy of Morán Morán