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KIM DORLAND

”THE WITNESS”


Los Angeles September 17th - October 24th 2022








Life’s a Bitch and then you Die, oil on canvas over wood panel, 40x30 inches, 2022


Emma Gray HQ is very pleased to present “The Witness” a solo exhibition of  new artworks by Kim Dorland, centered around the forest, trees, fires, blossoms and  Dorland’s wife who has appeared in copious artworks over the years. He describes Lori as such a constant  and  abiding presence that he can paint with  her with his eyes shut. But, like his beloved trees, she is sometimes just a  “stand in” or a “witness”  in the landscape, a signifier for the  joyful and sometimes brutal passage of time that marks our life. In tandem with this exhibition Dorland has created a limited edition wood cut print which will sell from the gallery by  in person pick up only and 100% of the proceeds will go to LA based non profit TreePeople.

Dorland a Canada native, identifies  deeply with the landscape and nature and in particular the woods, pointing out that in Cananda  there is a national hero-worship for artists who have depicted wilderness going back to the origins of Canadian culture and  that trees are a source of national pride.  I interviewed Dorland  to understand this tree-thing and reveal this concept of nature as a witness.

KD : I’m a voracious consumer of the language of painting, and landscape (and specifically trees) have played a big part in that - in Canada, and elsewhere. But, more than all of that, I find the role of trees fascinating. They are so many things at once: they are "witnesses", which predate and (most likely) will postdate us - they've seen it all!
They are signifiers for beauty, resilience and even industry, but have also unfortunately become a bleak reminder, metaphor and sort of bell wether of what's going on and what's to come (especially in our new climate change reality of fires, drought and epic storms). I'm also fascinated in the research and literature that's been coming out about how trees may communicate (with each other, and maybe even with us). For example, The Secret Life of Trees, The Overstory, Greenwood...

EG : Did you grow up on the edge of a forest?

KD :I   grew up in small cities and towns in the province of Alberta in Canada, where you are never very far from woods of some kind and many of our activities incorporated the woods: from bush parties as a teen to cottaging (which is anational summer past time in Canada).

EG : Often trees are in the back ground of your paintings as scene setters, but also like the works in this show, they can be the centerpiece of the painting?

KD: A few years ago it occurred to me that the trees could be moved up in the painting to become the central focus for a "portrait" of that tree. I did a show based on that idea a few years ago where I focused on the "personality" of the trees rather than using them to set the scene for action happening around them.

EG: Blossoms seem to be appearing too, and right next to them the disaster paintings. Can you talk about your thoughts of renewal (spring) and cycles of destruction as it relates to nature and your paintings?

KD: I’ve always been fascinated  by how material can set a mood or a tone. For me the blossoms are less about the cycle of destruction and renewal and more about how far you can take material to change the read of something like beauty. I could paint a picture of lovely, decorative blossoms and leave it at that, but that's a bit boring to me. By piling the paint onto the painting until it reaches its "limit" the meaning changes - sometimes many times over - until it's not just a pretty picture of flowers, but also has a tone of being a little off-putting or on edge. I've also been thinking a lot about how we've kind of transitioned from worrying about climate change to just living in it, and we've just kind of normalized it pretty casually in some ways: checking the weather to see if it's SAFE to go outside today, barely acknowledging that certain parts of the world are on fire... and yet, we still plant flowers and like to appreciate the aesthetics of things... we can't seem to quit beauty - maybe to our own detriment - but it's a very strong motivator for us to seek out beauty: in nature, in memory.  In a way, that's what this show is about: juxtaposing "disaster" scenes with flashes of beauty or calm to sort of depict that defense mechanism in the human brain.

EG: Also, even though your titles might seem a bit hopeless “life's a bitch and then you die” the painting itself is hopeful, blossoms bloom behind the empty face. It’s apocalyptic and beautiful.

KD : Again, it's that juxtaposition I mentioned above, and obviously a little bit of tongue-in-cheek for some of thetitles. That painting might seem hopeful at first glance, but when you see it up close and personal the amount and application of the paint - on the flowers and the face - it becomes a little more off-putting - like something's not quite right but you can't quite put your finger on it. I like that push and pull.

EG: Much has been made of your impasto thick paint, can you talk about this as a form of expression? It seems to be very emphatic?

KD: Paint is expression for me, and that often mean exploiting it’s materiality. Yes, I am a representational artist, and I happen to be pretty good at rendering things, but that doesn't get at the feeling of things for me. So, for example, when I paint portraits (which I can only do of a few people who I know the best because I can "feel" them) I could do an accurate picture of their face, but that doesn't really interest me. Instead, I prefer to work with the paint (which often mean piling it on) until the portrait FEELS like them.

EG: Your wife - she is a central and also a silent witness, appearing in many of your works ( a bit like the trees) - these things make me think of a Buddhist term “permanence” and how she and the trees are the markers of time and something very important that you refer to again and again.

KD: I like your "markers of time" description, and that's very much a part of it. I love the way, for example, that Alex Katz painted Ava over the years and it became this larger narrative about relationships, the passage of time, even fashion. Lori (my wife) is the thing I know best. We've been together since we were kids and we've walked through every stage of life so far together. As I mentioned above, I have a very hard time painting people I don't know because I don't have that emotional component. But I can paint Lori with my eyes closed.

Kim Dorland was born in 1974 in Wainwright (Canada). Dorland has exhibited internationally, including shows in Milan, Montreal, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Solo ex-hibitions have been presented in prestigious institutions,such as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Canada), theContemporary Calgary (Canada) and the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (USA). Dorland’s work can be found in anumber of public and corporate collections including TheSander Collection (Germany); Nerman Museum of ContemporaryArt (USA); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Canada); MontrealMuseum of Contemporary Art (Canada), Blanton Museum of Art(USA); The Glenbow Museum in Calgary (Canada); Museum ofContemporary Art San Diego (USA), Royal Bank of Canada(Canada) and numerous private collections. Born in Wainwright, Canada, 1974 Lives and works in Toronto, Canada



Strike, oil on canvas, 12 x 10 inches, 2022

Untitled, oil on linen, 14x11 inches, 2022

L.S., oil on canvas, 14x11 inches, 2022

Daymoon, oil on canvas, 14x11 inches, 2022

Summer Painting, oil on canvas, 11x14 inches, 2022

Sky, oil on canvas, 24x18 inches, 2022


🏔 🔥 ,oil on linen, 12x9 inches, 2022

Portrait, oil and spray paint on wood panel, 14x11”
, 2020-22

Lilacs, oil on canvas, 14x11 inches, 2022

Ghost, oil on canvas, 14x11 inches, 2022
Not Today, oil on wood, 12x9 inches, 2022

The Witness, oil on canvas, 20x16 inches, 2022




















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