Previews: Kathryn Dunlevie
by Berin Golonu
Artweek, Vol. 31, Issue 9, September, 2000, front cover, page 6.
Kathryn Dunlevie's painted photo-montages bridge the worlds of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined. The artist tempers her photographic representations of cityscapes with atmospheric washes of acrylic paint. We are drawn in by their crisp architectural details and further seduced by the improbability of their fantastical compositions. In one image, arched windows peek out of a concrete wall that appears to diffuse into a smoky blue haze. In another view of a city street, contrasting perspectives are morphed together amidst an inky black ground. A sense of vertigo is conjured by Dunlevie's decision to use multifaceted viewpoints rather than one-point perspective in her urban scenes, and in looking at these optical illusions, we are left questioning our own sense of balance as well as our grasp of reality.
Dunlevie's perspectival experimentations bring to mind the Cubist compositions of Leger, Picasso and Braque, which undoubtedly conjured similar sensations of chaos and disquietude within their contemporary audiences. These artists also drew inspiration from city life, utilizing fragmented, multipart perspectives to express the onslaught of stimuli offered by their urban surrounds. Apart from being able to meld separate physical spaces into one harmonious composition, however, Dunlevie is most artful in her capacity to collapse different time periods into a single image or thought. A Honda motorcycle might sit parked next to the graceful, industrial arches of a nineteenth century train station. The past and the present are thus blended into an overlapping narrative in the same way that our day to day experience might be peppered by memories of the past or altered by our dreams for the future. Isn't this, after all the way we experience life?