With the "Come as you are" exhibition, Galerie Wolfgang Jahn in Landshut is showing a personal exhibition by the artist Kate Waters, who was born in Canada in 1964, studied art in London and now lives and works in Düsseldorf. The show presents selected paintings and graphics from her current oeuvre.
The starting point for Waters' hyper-realistic images are photographs taken in many places, which the artist then digitally processes and transforms with precise meticulousness into impressive and meaningfully charged compositions in the medium of painting and graphics. At first glance, the subjects look like casual snapshots of everyday situations, fleeting, supposedly banal and trivial snapshots which one would not generally attach any heightened attention or significance to. Waters shows us glimpses of urban scenes with atmospheric lighting moods by day and night: the interior of a bar or a stylish café together with the visitors who happen to be there and their behaviour become the focus of observation and interest. Likewise, lively street scenes with largely anonymous passers-by crossing traffic lights, strolling in pedestrian areas and on pavements, or even a pair of affectionate lovers in a park.
The act of consciously selecting the subject, the seemingly exaggerated picture format and the dedicated, intensive painting process, permanently deprive the scenes, often otherwise probably only noticed out the corner of your eye, of their ephemeral existence, figuratively enrapturing them, even monumentalising them to a certain extent and charging them with meaning. Waters instructs us to be attentive, to consciously experience the momentary. She forces us to look more closely, to discover what is special in that moment, what remains hidden from us through the prioritising filter of our everyday focus, and finally to compare what we see with our own emotional and lived wealth of experience based on the situation. In her art, the fleeting moment becomes lasting. The focus is not on the major event, the moment of something being special, but on the specialness of the moment. Waters deals with everyday life as a subject with its ephemeral aesthetics and reflects the familiar and the ordinary in its carelessness and abundance, but also in the subtle drama of interpersonal behaviour between (non-verbal) communication and speechlessness, anonymity and openness. It is not uncommon for a feeling of uncertainty to creep up on you when you are looking at the pictures, a feeling inherent in the moment as a bridge between the present and the future.
The impression of a photographic snapshot is also reinforced in Waters' work by the fact that she adopts the typical phenomena and effects of this medium in her paintings. For example, overexposure, famiiar to us from backlit photos, which literally fades out the details in the area of glaring light, producing heightened contrasts of light and dark. But motion blurs, where moving objects become ghostly streaks due to longer exposure times and the lights of passing cars are still present in the picture as veiled lines of colour, can also be found in her pictures evoking a dynamism that suggests the permanence of constant change. In the end though, you are left with the sensual experience of painting, where you can palpably sense the applied pigment, seen through the medium of photography.
Even the chosen title of the exhibition, which inevitably reminds us of a well-known song by the cult grunge band Nirvana, who were unpretentious at the time, can be linked associatively and descriptively to Kate Waters' visual worlds. Ultimately, "Come as you are" suggests spontaneity, authenticity and being true to life.
Dr. Veit Ziegelmaier