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Ted Katz
at Butters Gallery Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Earlier this year, when Ted Katz returned to Portland from a two-month sojourn in Ireland and North Yorkshire, he began to infuse his acrylic paintings with the drama and poignancy of the British landscape. His exhibition at Butters, "Never Trust a Full Moon," is a paean to skyscapes over countrysides resplendent with grasses, grains, and fruit-bearing trees. A bona fide painter’s painter, he enlivens his abstracted landscapes by pivoting between arid surfaces, as in "Crossing the Autumn Moor," and luscious impasto à la "Trees Holding Hands." In "Red Morning Sky" he daubs defiant fuchsia amidst an otherwise tame pastorale, as if to assert—if not to polemicize—the transfigurative power of the brushstroke. From painting to painting, Katz migrates the horizon line to vary emotional tenor from claustrophobic to expansive. It is above midpoint in "The Field of Bright Mustard," dead center in "Rapture," below center in "Outlook," and upended topsy-turvy in "Coming Back." Sometimes, when the artist evokes too literally the land and sky, as in "The Green Corn Moon," the work tips its hand and risks triteness. Further, while his suite of five watercolors is compositionally sound, it is chromatically anemic. The work is most virile when it gives in to its endemic voluptuousness, as in "Another Year Gone By," with its spectacular teal sky, vaporous clouds, nuggets of texture, and luminous underpainting. This is Katz at his most poetic, sharing reveries of terrain and shimmering atmospherics.

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