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Allison Katz: Artery review

Art Camden Arts Centre , Finchley Road Tuesday January 18 2022 - Sunday March 13 2022 Free
4 out of 5 stars
Allison Katz, 'The Cockfather', © Allison Katz; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York
Allison Katz, 'The Cockfather', © Allison Katz; Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, New York

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Allison Katz is in relentless pursuit of what she calls ‘genuine ambiguity’. Not that fake stuff you get off dodgy websites, but the pure, uncut, good shit: top grade ambiguity.

So the Canadian artist’s paintings are - as you can guess - pretty ungraspable things, filled with symbols and concepts that mean multiple things, that signify contrasting ideas. They are, in other words, ambiguous AF. 

The show opens with a painting of the inside of a lift. The perspective draws you in towards its gleaming silver surfaces, ready to usher you to the floor of your choosing. It’s the perfect start; a lift is the ultimate ‘liminal’ space, a constant in-between, a space that’s never permanently one thing or another, it’s always changing.

Chickens show up a lot in this show, and eggs too, lots of eggs. Both hard and fragile, caught between conception and hatching, the egg is, again, an ambiguous object.

One room here is made up of paintings seen from the inside of a mouth, the teeth and lips acting as a framing device for visions of a woman sat on a floor (a self-portrait), a cat, a room of paintings and another chicken, Behind each work is a painting of a cabbage. It’s an incessant clash of the super weird with the super mundane.

Other works here depict a naked man in a field of bulls, or a car seen from the inside of another car. And you start to realise that everything is linked. The symbols here all repeat, you can draw lines between the works. All this chaos is connected.

I don't think these are necessarily brilliant paintings, but the show as a whole is so quietly unsettling that it leaves you feeling unnerved, like you’re entered an impossible tangled web that you can’t escape. Katz’s art lacks any solid meanings, there’s no black and white here. And in a world where you’re constantly surrounded by opinions, hot takes and hard facts, a little wobbly ambiguity is actually a really nice thing.


Venue name: Camden Arts Centre
Venue website:
Venue phone: 020 7472 5500
Address: Arkwright Road
Transport: Tube: Finchley Road/Hampstead
Price: Free

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