Widely acclaimed for his graphic portraiture and expansive landscapes, Alex Katz is unveiling a new body of Iris oil paintings in Chicago this month.
On show at the Richard Gray Gallery, the mixture of small and large scale artworks of flowers are tightly cropped compositions, distilled down to their fundamental components – giving us the bare minimum detail, something we've come to expect and love from the American artist.
Created at his studio in Maine, the Iris paintings recall his first encounter with painting en Plein air in 1949 at the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. Painting studies are paramount to Katz's artistic practice, as he works from life when drafting them in an effort to capture the "fleeting inspirational moment".
Only once he is happy with the draft phase does Katz translate the compositions to a larger canvas. This technique, poet and critic John Yau confirms, is "Katz's way of staying true to the shock of the original perception… His subject is the present tense of seeing, not something recollected in tranquillity."
For his new solo show, you'll see Katz's Irises are depicted in his signature style: flower petals appear like splashes of yellow among broad crisscrossing strokes of blue-green stems, all overlaid on lively backgrounds of pink, orange, or green.
One of the most recognised and widely exhibited artists of his generation, Alex Katz's exhibition, Flowers, runs at the Richard Gray Gallery in Chicago until 10 January 2020.