SMODÈ MAGAZINE

Alex Katz The White Coat Exhibition Gray Chicago

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Oct 22 – Dec 17, 2021

One of the most influential American artists of the last half-century and a leading figure of contemporary figurative painting, Alex Katz presents a new series of eleven large-scale portraits in a focused solo exhibition titled The White CoatAlex Katz: The White Coat opens with a public reception on Friday, October 22, from 5-7 PM CDT, at Gray Chicago (2044 West Carroll Avenue), and will remain on view through December 17, 2021.

Created between 2020 and 2021, Katz’s White Coat paintings are based on the likeness of Vivien Bittencourt, a photographer and filmmaker, and the artist’s daughter-in-law. Across these eleven portraits, Katz paints Vivien in a variety of dynamic compositions unified by a brilliant light blue ground colour. With a discerning eye for colour, form, and economy of line, Katz upholds the immediacy of portraiture while balancing the specific and abstract, intimate and remote, geometric and gestural.

Katz’s ongoing endeavour to capture fleeting moments in time manifests in this series as a sequence of snapshot-like images. In Vivien in White Coat 1-11, Katz choreographs each composition as if painted in rapid succession. Yet, despite their seriality, Vivien retains an air of mystery in each canvas, turning towards and away from the viewer in a state of perpetual motion.

Writer and curator Jan Verwoert, in the text he authored for the accompanying publication, observes, Vivien looks you in the eye and stands firmly. But still, she will not stand for long. The folds and ripples in the white coat she wears give clues to the fact that she may prefer to stay in motion. As do the freely interlacing patterns of black lines on the blouse she put on under the coat. Vivien looks around, turns, and is on her way.

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