ON VIEW THRU DECEMBER 14, 2023: “Beyond the Beyond” features Texas artist McKay Otto and Canadian painter Janna Watson at Laura Rathe Fine Art (River Oaks District).
Exploring both artists’ ideas of the unreachable, the work of Mckay Otto and Janna Watson act as a conversation between the protagonist and antagonist of artistic elements. The juxtaposition of minimal elements in McKay Otto’s paintings becomes complimentary of the energized, traditional painterly qualities of Janna Watson’s compositions.
Concerned with freeing two-dimensionality in painting, McKay’s work offers viewers a literal perspective of this theme, using the specially formulated transparent nylon “canvas” to project the viewer ever beyond the unknown. The ambiguousness of his subject matter amplifies the experience of something intangible or not concrete, as if you were looking into infinity. This notion of being able to see beyond the surface directly truncates the preconceived necessity of pictorial space and frees it to exist within the context of its own physical embodiment.
In contrast, Janna Watson uses abstraction as both an escape from and a return to the real. As the world we know dematerializes into paint strokes, so too does her paint take the stage as its very own character in a multi-act drama of composition. Bundles of color, made up of discrete yet inseparable instances of pigment—what Watson refers to as “moments”—are teeming and poised as though caught mid-multiplication. Sweeps of paint redirect sharply and fold over themselves; thin, rigid ink lines cut into the pictorial field as rudimentary elements in an increasingly complex system of painterly language. The combination of the two playfully brings viewers’ imaginations in and out of focus, removing the traditional boundaries of abstraction and pushing them beyond bounds.