b. 1956 Maine, USA
Katherine Beck is an abstract painter known for her large-scale surfaces heavily imbued with motion and light. Her gestural layers of color simultaneously float, anchor and rest amidst heavier, transitory mark. Her latest works often contain a surprise of known motif - abstract shapes and forms reminiscent of objects, people and places in her life. Asserting concepts of memory, lith nature and obscure social presence, Beck holds tight to the surface, suppressing an uneasy premise of chaos, while suggesting conflicting and romantic possibilities of order and disorder, always within a grounding of place.
"...As a child, I loved to draw boxes with white chalk on pavement, and then get inside the boxes, pretending they were walls, buildings and places I could be, expanding and retracting the lines until the spaces became just what I wanted. I would draw other things inside those boxes, too, and play for hours this way. It was very theatrical, actually, very modernist. I think I learned to rely on drawing with such ease at this early age, creating a sense of discovery and truth that became part of me, actually, a definition of my life. I choose to look at drawings as a vehicle to transport myself to another more complex place. I never questioned that as a child. I never have."
In his 2011 catalogue essay, Kate Beck, the Potential of Line, Piet Augustijn, Curator Emeritus of Contemporary Art at the Gorcums Museum in The Nederlands, writes "… [her paintings] appear as poetic impressions of colored perception, interpretations of a personal experience of nature created from within and resulting in oases of inner calm and contemplation, but also of mystery, reminiscent of the pigment sculptures by Anish Kapoor, subtle poetic works with strength, fragility and infinite depth of light... ".
Primary influences include early Renaissance painters Jan van Eyck and Rembrandt van Rijn, abstract expressionist and color field painter Helen Frankenthaler, and contemporary artists Gerhard Richter, Brice Marden, and Katharina Grosse among many others.
Beck has been a student of the University of Maine, Bennington College, Goddard College and Maine College of Art. She has exhibited and lectured widely, including: Portland Museum of Art, Maine; New Mexico Museum of Contemporary Art, New Mexico; University of Western Bohemia, Czech Republic; Gorcums Museum, Nederlands; PIT Project Space, Nederlands; ParisCONCRET Projects, France; Brito.Rodriguez Arquitectura, Portugal; Stiftung Konzeptuelle Kunst, Germany; and BAU Institute, Italy. She is collected within the United States and Europe, and recently acquisitioned by the Foundation of Conceptual Art Museum, in Soest, Germany.