A natural palette
Kris Dey, an artist, is intrigued by the variety in the basic shapes of trees and their leaves, and how light, when fallin on a tree in full leaf, is broken into a multitude of shades of green; she also finds fascinating the constantly changing aspect of nature -- no tree, no sea, no field, ever remains the same visually for any time. Clouds, the shifting of patterns under the influence of wind, the movement of the sun, all combine to form an endless variation on the original appearance. Rather than try to capture the visual appearance of one instance of this variety in the patterns that intrigue her, she set out to develop a technique that expresses this interest directly without references to natural forms and appearances. A description of one of her works makes it sound very complicated, but because she is knowledgeable about her materials and techniques and the control of her concepts, a viewer is not overwhelmed by a profusion of activity but rather feels a great richness of concept and apperance.
"Bopus" began through developing two paintings on unstretched cotton cloth. One painting was done with stencils and an airbrush; the other was developed through the process known as tie-dying. The major colors in both were strictly limited, primarily to black with a few other bright, pure colors. These cloth pieces were then torn by hand into strips. These strips were woven about plastic tubes, interweaving both so that echoes of each of the primary paintings were sensed by the viewer. The wrapped tubes were then reassembled into one piece which measured about 3 ft. 10 in. by 4 ft.The groupings were carefully controlled so that, first, the upper strip of cloth emerges from the composition done by the airbrush technique, and the lower emerges from the tie- dying. The tubes were grouped in tens -- black predominated in half the groups of 10, white in the other, and the artist has aimed to balance the colors and the black and white so that an even flow of visual elements crosses the surface of the work.
Because all the elements are so carefully controlled, the result is a satisfying visual experience, a work that invites further study to explore the variety of color, the multiplicity of relationships, and the lines formed or implied by flowing shapes and colors.
Works other than "Bopus" rely on a rich but subtle color scheme developed through bright and light colors. These are never garish, and their close and harmonious relationships are an enriching element in the complexity of these pieces. The limited contrast in dark and light is played beautiflly against the subtle three-dimensionality of these pieces, so that the works are constantly, quietly, changing as different types of light play around their surfaces. The works are particularly pleasing and quietly active when they are hung in positions where natural light, with its constant shifting of position and color, is allowed to fall on them, for at one hour of the day, the tubes will be lit from the left, while at another, they will be lighted from the front; then the light will shift to the right, with each shift bringing another small area to prominence. As the light changes from cool to warm and back again, different colors in the pieces become more or less highlighted. The viewer thus gets a constantly changing surface to watch and enjoy.
Many artists today are exploring complex techniques or extremities in scale, or trying in other ways to expand the concepts of nonobjective art. Kris Dey has developed her own approach, enriching and enchancing her pieces by complex techniques brought together with sure control so that the viewer is not aware of all the work, all the elements so firmly controlled, but only aware of rich, finished works that delight the eye. This ease, this delight which catches the viewer, comes from hard work and extensive knowledge of techniques through which the arttist expresses her concerns and interest in the complexity of the visual world which surrounds us all.