4 weeks ago

Artistic License: Katherine Boucher Beug

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The Cork-based artist’s new exhibition is intimate in scale with each of its twelve flower paintings reflecting a different mood …

How long has this exhibition been in the planning and execution and what was the original spark?

The first “flower painting” in this series happened about two and a half years ago, but many seeds were planted, so to speak, in the 50 years preceding that painting. I have found “flower paintings” on paper dating back 20 years and drawings of flowers go back to my teenage years. I do not plan for exhibitions as such but I do, generally, work in series. The choices and challenges met in one painting, lead to the next and then to the next! One of the main sparks for this particular series was an Easter gift of a plant in a pot from a friend. I knew the moment I saw it that it had to become a painting.

Drawing florals is as much about how they are presented and in each of these new images in your exhibition the vase is very important …

Learning more about ceramics from Adrian Wistreich in his pottery classes, in Kinsale, became an ever more important aspect of this series as it developed. The more techniques I learned for making pots, the more exact my expectations became about which flowers needed which vase. Now the plot really thickened. I had some control over another aspect of the process. Did my beloved Zinnias want a clownish, circus pot to bring out their wildness? Or did they want to have a pot that would offer sober, calm contrast? And then what context would that demand. The whole project attained a new and very intense level.

Where and how do you work?

The paintings are always done in my studio, at my home in Dunderrow which is a converted animal shed, separate from our very old farm house in Co Cork. But I do many drawings outdoors, in my garden, and in good weather, this would be on a daily basis. I live with and beside my subject matter, and spend a great deal of time taking care of them. I never work from photographs, though I take photographs of flowers and arrangements but I never work on my paintings from them.

Mostly I work from “life” for the initial “underpainting”. The set-up of a particular arrangement, in a particular vase, in the studio is important as the light and shadow are of paramount importance. Then the “under-painting” has to happen very quickly because the light constantly changes and because I do not work from photographs. But then many changes, and inventions will happen; often taking months to complete.

Have you had any artistic muses – I believe the works of Bolognese still life painter Giorgio Morandi have been a particular reference point …

I have many muses; and, yes, Morandi is always there. But at any time, if you came into my studio, you would see books open on the tables of Matisse, Bonnard and Diebenkorn. Diebenkorn’s small still lifes were a guiding spirit for these paintings. Also, always there for me is the work of Gabrielle Munter and Paula Modersohn-Becker. These five, plus Morandi remain my true teachers.

Do you have any favourites in the exhibition and if so, which and why?

No, I do not have favourites. I edit my work rigorously and discard or paint over most of what I do. The twelve paintings in this show each have their own mood, each make their own statement and I stand by each of them.

Need to Know: Katherine Boucher Beug’s “12 Flower Paintings” exhibition is on at Oliver Sears Gallery from September 24 – October 29, by appointment, 33 Fitzwilliam Street Upper, Dublin 2: www.oliversearsgallery.com.

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