For several years Laura Karetzky’s paintings have enlivened in multi-tiered distortions glimpsed through a digital screen. For Homing, her first solo exhibition at Elizabeth Houston gallery—on view December 11th through February 8th—she has taken her artistry to a new level. Tethering the collage-like formalism of screen-captured images to a brightly luminous palette, Karetzky’s most recent paintings delve the clandestine world of domesticity.
In this world, windows and mirrors are interchangeable, and every surface bathes in a spectral wash of color similar to the glow that emits from a computer screen. The science embedded in our iPhones serves Karetzky as a kind of counterpoint, a platform from which she describes the sometimes surreal, yet always emotionally involving scenes that crop up at the margins of algorithmically structured interactions.
Karetzky’s reliance on tactile materials like wood and oil paint feeds into the digital sphere of apps like Facetime and Skype. What comes out of this is a sort of stasis, where events and faces framed by a digital lens become animated by brushstrokes. The compositional logic of the computer screen is fully apparent in a painting like Face On Face, where a florid, Renoiresque face floats over a reclining man, filling out his far paler cheek and eyelid.
Face On Facetroubles the boundary between reality and fiction. For some viewers, the floating rectangle in the middle of the painting might seem more “real” than the reclining figure. Yet this only works to show how technology has become more real than experience. The black and white, newspaper coloring of the reclining man contrasts glaringly with the colorful details given to the face floating over him.
In another painting, Reisers Toast, the viewer is thrust into the point of view of the artist, joining Karetzky and her family as she takes a holiday photo. Reisers Toastmakes clear that Karetzky is accepting of how mediation reaches into every area of our lives. In fact, it’s the more technologically primitive casing of a toaster that warps her family’s features. The painting’s bright orange hues seem to derive from technological augmentation—like the scrim of an Instagram filter—more than the candles of the menorah.
Throughout Homing, Karetzky recreates the psychology specific to looking and being looked at through a digital screen. Each work on exhibit shows a figure situated inside some framed narative, or, as in Sisterhood Conjoinedand Unison, inside another individual. With an eye to how digital mediation has infused our world with new symbologies, she preserves the uncanny disfigurements that come from observing life in the abstract.
– Jeffrey Grunthaner