Kym Greeley

Kym Greeley, a Newfoundlander, lives and works in a place where landscape painting is a staple, evident sometimes as a vigorous boom, but more often as an infectious blight. Traditionally, Newfoundland artists (and audiences) have ignored other forms of painting or subjects, preferring well-worn and comforting depictions of home. For this reason,
hers is brave work, tackling a subject well trod, weighted by expectation, and at some odds with broader contemporary practice.

Greeley’s landscapes, adverse to those seemingly endless, romantic depictions of Atlantic staples: lone erratic, wind-swept barrens, quaint villages and seascapes, offer the quintessential contemporary Newfoundland subjects.

A recurring one, the Trans-Canada Highway is possibly the icon of contemporary, post-Confederation Newfoundland. Barely 45 years old, this expensive and expansive piece of modernity marks our move away from a coastal economy of bays and boats. It is a thin ribbon of asphalt more prized, desired and subsidized than any brochure-bound outport or natural wonder. It is from this vantage (the windshield’s widescreen), that Greeley begins much of her art.

Greeley’s recent paintings evolved from her experience in purer abstraction, from earlier years in New York. This period, less concerned with representation, saw her honing of formal and colour sensibilities that now buttress these new works. Her process is a combining of tools and methods, including photography, preliminary sketches, digital imaging, painting and silk-screening. In concert, these approaches reduce and distil
Greeley’s subjects into a base, spare and fixed form.

Her subjects, often mundane, are captured and catalogued by the camera and then, are further flattened into monochrome fields through layerings of digital plotting,
painting and silkscreen.

There is a certain satisfaction in art that manages to integrate the coolness of technology with the warmth of human hand and eye. Artists can sometimes stumble into a practice where the use of new tools show more novelty then nuance. Greeley avoids this, applying the the machine-touch of screen, camera or mousepad in full knowledge of their own language/history. By layering these steps, she somehow arrives at a place where the
image becomes clarified, finding the sweet-spot between forced formalism and abject minimalism. There is also a tipping of the hat to other art, including Pop; subjects elevated from the everyday, and the reduction of colours that seem more adapted to computer screens or shampoo bottles.

- Bruce Johnson