Australian artist Kate Shaw combines “paint pours”, collage, glitters and inks to render expansive, psychedelic landscapes. The colorful images yield awe-inspiring effects, yet are accompanied with a dark undertone. While they may capture the “transcendent beauty” of nature, at the same time they hint at the troubling environmental changes brought on by human activity.
Shaw is originally from Sydney and currently lives and works between Melbourne and New York City. She graduated with a B.A. from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and earned a diploma in museum studies from Deakin University in Victoria. The artist’s work is included in collections at the University of Queensland Museum and Museum of Brisbane. She has also collaborated with Urban Outfitters and Front Row Society.
Though bordering on abstract and surreal, her works present an image of our planet that is not too unfamiliar in the age of ‘Anthropocene’. Many of Shaw’s paintings are inspired by her travels to Iceland, Central Australia, and the Southwestern United States, where signs of climate change are evident. The acidic colors, marbled patterns and swirls of paint in her various pieces also resemble new geological materials, such as Fordite, a man-made rock created from hardened layers of old automotive paint.
Shaw’s artist statement further demonstrates her interest in the duality of our relationship with the natural world. She writes, “My practice is to convey ideas of nature, alchemy and cycles of creation/destruction. [My artworks] deal with the tensions and dichotomies in the depiction of the natural world and our relationship to it. I am concurrently exploring the sublime in nature whilst imbuing a sense of toxicity and artificiality in this depiction. My intention is to reflect upon the contradiction between our inherent connection to the natural world and continual distancing from it.”
The artist has also produced small-scale videos in which footage of polluted waters and volcanic eruptions is combined with the poured paint of her collage paintings: