Katy Cowan: as the sun chases the unfurling fray

8 January - 12 February 2022

Philip Martin Gallery is proud to present "as the sun chases the unfurling fray," an exhibition of newly painted cast aluminum sculptures and works-on-paper by Katy Cowan. Cowan's unique cast-aluminum wall works are filled with a sense of physicality and sculptural depth, creating a new sense of space, shape and color. Cowan’s drawings and sculptures are influenced by the coastal landscape of Northern California, a direct response to the movement of wind and water.

Cowan’s painted sculptures are created as a whole body of work that responds and reflects off each other, symbiotically working together in a direct response to each other. Cowan’s practice is heavily process based resulting in what looks like painted rope but what is in actuality cast metal. Her process begins with making molds of rope adhered to a wooden board. She lets the rope in its fluid form dictate the shape and motion of the piece. These primitive molds are then taken to a foundry where molten metal is then poured onto the wooden structure. The texture of the rope and the board are all integral parts of the piece. This idea of making a composition out of simple objects and tools with the molten material being an active fluid body is all part of the larger artistic vision. This strong role of material, the questioning of object and surface occurring in Cowan’s sculptures, holds equal importance to her color choices. This evenly displaced importance, encompassing material and color, comes together as one cohesive unit to form these unique sculptures.

Cowan’s painting and drawing background is inherent in her body of work. Her use of color is bold and painterly, often incorporating sunsets, landscapes, and color wheels into her body of work. Cowan has a call and response relationship between the paint and material. In “the almost, reversed”, single strands of rope are apparent yet could also be waves thrashing about at sea during a red sky night. “Clearing to blaring” comes to life when one looks beyond the initial materials- a struggling tree in the wind, her roots an intricately webbed lifeline emerge poignantly from the sculpture. Cowan’s vibrant use of colors then enhance the dynamic movement of the materials.  

In Cowan’s works on paper, this same movement is still apparent but now in a subtler manner. Watercolor, oil paint, and graphite are all blended onto paper creating a fluid form, much like molten metal. In “only a darkness in the dark”, Cowan’s mediums and motifs flow back and forth, complementing her sculptures, while still significant as a stand-alone work. Vibrant streaks of paint, accidental drips, thick gestures, passages of grayscale, and thin lines demarcate the means by which the viewer may visually navigate space and surface.

Katy Cowan (b. 1982, Lake Geneva, WI) received her BFA from University of Puget Sound (Puget Sound, WA) in 2004 and her MFA from Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA) in 2014. Cowan’s work is currently subject of the solo-exhibition, “as the sun chases the unfurling fray,” at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA). Cowan's work is also currently included in the exhibitions, “Lines of Thought: Gestural Abstraction,” at the Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive (Berkeley, CA), and “From the Collection of Anonymous,” at the North Dakota Museum of Art (Grand Fork, ND). Recent solo and group shows include “Suns Pass Flat” and ”The Day in the Night,” at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); “Winds Glow Unceasing“ at Document (Chicago, IL); Centennial: 100 Years of Otis College Alumni” at Otis College of Art and Design (Los Angeles, CA); “Left, Right, Left, Left” at The Green Gallery (Milwaukee, WI)’ and “The Blue Sun Moans” at Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY). Cowan has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at Philip Martin Gallery (Los Angeles, CA); Fourteen30 Contemporary (Portland, OR); University of Puget Sound (Tacoma, WA); Lynden Sculpture Garden (Milwaukee, WI); Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (Madison, WI); Synchrotron Radiation Center: Home of Aladdin (Stoughton, WI); Poor Farm (Manawa, WI); The Green Gallery (Milwaukee, WI); and Kate Werble Gallery (New York, NY). Cowan’s work is in public and private collections such as the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA); (Milwaukee Museum of Art (Milwaukee, WI); Minneapolis Museum of Art (Minneapolis, MN); North Dakota Museum of Art (Grand Fork, ND); Lynden Sculpture Garden (Milwaukee, WI); Art in Embassies (Maputo, Mozambique); and Northwestern Mutual Insurance (Milwaukee, WI). Her work has been reviewed in “Artforum,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Architectural Digest,” “Wallpaper*,” “Contemporary Art Review LA,” “Artnet,” and other publications. Cowan lives and works in Berkeley, CA.

Katy Cowan’s exhibition of new painted cast aluminum sculptures and works-on-paper is on view at the gallery January 8 – February 12, 2022. There will be a reception for the artist Saturday, January 8 from 2-5pm.

Philip Martin Gallery is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10-4 and by appointment. For additional images, or information please email info@philipmartingallery.com, or call 310-559-0100. Philip Martin Gallery is located at 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034 in the Culver City area of Los Angeles between Venice Blvd. and Washington Blvd., just south of the 10 Freeway.