Artist STatement

I think a lot about the distance we experience around us. There are some distances that seem so impossibly far out of reach. In our iPhone-staring, social media fueled world right now, one can be right next to another and feels a million miles apart. Then there are moments when we experience an intimate connection, whether through physical touch or compressed onto the same screen during a video chat session.

My recent paintings are a record of an experience, a feeling. In a familiar space, both the presence and the absence of figure are equally palpable.  A portrait may begin with the person sitting in front of me or a transient smile over FaceTime, and all that might get buried under layers of painted recollection of how the sun felt the day he sat there.  My mixed media work is painted from observations, layered with sharp and hazy memories and recorded snapshot photos.   With each painting, I am constantly re-establishing my relationship with the subject matter, being conscientious of my distance to them, physically and emotionally.

I project my thought and my experiences onto the canvas and the image pushes back. The result is an intimate back and forth conversation between myself and the work. The dialogue goes through stages of cutting and pasting painted paper and reclaimed scraps, and spills over to a physical pushing, dragging, and dripping of thickly-laid and scraped-away paint. In the end, there may be so much on the painting, or only traces of history left visible.

Kathy Liao, 2018