Catherine Anholt 'Love, Life, Loss'
12 MAY - 24 JUNE 2023
Curated by Tom Anholt
Opening Reception: Friday 12 May 2023, 6 - 9 pm (*Artist in attendance)
Location: CHOI&CHOI Gallery SEOUL, 42 Palpan-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03054
Catherine Anholt. You can’t Fake the Funk
I’m biased of course, but I’d say that my mother, Catherine Anholt, is the most generous person I know. Love, shelter, food, support - she can never give enough. I think it comes from the Irish tradition: ‘We might not have much, but what we have, we share’.
As soon as she sent the first photos, I could tell that these were generous paintings… but my god, when you see them in the flesh! These images are like thick, warm pudding, with plenty to go around. Delicious daubs of paint which describe deeply personal journeys and meaningful moments. You have to be a very generous person - a very generous painter, to give this much to the viewer.
I have beautiful memories of growing up in a house full of paint and images, characters and stories. In my childhood, there was a thin veil between life and art, reality and fiction, dreaming and awakening. What's the difference anyway? Why let the truth get in the way of a good story? Painting is like that too. You might start by painting your dog, but before long, your dog becomes a tree, because you need a little green, and the sky becomes a roof because the image needs structure, and the sun becomes a moon, because you want it to be night. I’m starting to realise that these changes don't take away from the truth of the story; they add to it.
That house of stories and pictures, might be the realest place I know. These paintings are some of the truest I’ve seen.
I watched a Wallace and Gromit cartoon recently with my daughter and found myself thinking about mum's paintings. It’s a world where everything is made of the same lovely, sticky, chunky material. The toast with jam that Wallace eats has the same fleshy consistency as the teeth that bite it, and the podgy hand that holds it. An arm, a branch, an apple or a shell; Catherine sculpts and moulds oil paint, maximising its natural squidginess to create her rich, fleshy worlds. At the end of her multi-layered process, the paintings themselves have become beautiful sculptural objects in their own right.
‘You can't fake the funk’. That loose style, that effortlessly naïve, yet elegant representation, that emotional depth - you can't fake that. These are soulful, deeply feminine paintings, which emerge from profoundly personal experiences. I think this is the perfect time for paintings like these. A time when we need to reconnect with something ancient and primeval. A time when, even with the constant bombardment of digital imagery, you won’t fully appreciate these works until you see them for real. Like many paintings I love, these works invite you in, and then take you further. It’s the warm, harmonious palette and loving storytelling which beckons you, but it's the subtly textured surfaces and the discernible process of struggle and change, that makes you stay.
I've been telling anyone who'll listen for a while that, as a painter, my mum has simply got it! Now many more people are seeing it too. After this exhibition there will be no denying it, I’m convinced of that. This show is like a perfect evening - a warm fire, a table full of home-cooking and wine. Fantastic stories, with a few tears and some hearty laughs. You’ll leave full, relaxed and hopeful for humanity. You’ll want to come again, and if I know my mum, I’m sure you’ll be welcome.
Tom Anholt, 2023