Gallery nine 5 is pleased to announce Empire Builder, the second solo exhibition of Washington D.C. based artist Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann, from May 5th – June 12th, 2016.
Referring to Chinese burial murals, maps, science fiction, and satellite imagery, Mann creates enveloping abstract landscapes that vacillate between the contingency of the natural world and highly detailed, controlled drawing. She begins each painting with the chance procedure of pouring puddles of ink and water, and builds off this foundation with drawing, printmaking, collage, and weaving to create her pieces. From these initial ink and water stains, her pieces grow sensuously and limitlessly—explorations of what a fantastical space can be.
Walking through the exhibition, the viewer feels like she is entering a haven of both chaos and neurotic control, as Mann’s paintings use both dramatic explosions of color and repetitive, mutated detail work to engage their audience. These paintings stand stark and impressive against the blank walls of the gallery. Their size and vibrancy intuitively mark these as landscape paintings, but each painting also engages with and questions the tropes of landscape.
Tremble, Trample, for example, a 5-panel, 30-foot long wallpaper-like painting, plays with imagery pulled from burial paintings in the Dunhuang Caves—a system of hundreds of temples and underground burial spaces spanning thousands of years of mural art in Western China. Like much of the imagery it references, the piece exists in a gray space between landscape painting and diagrammatic map-making. With this piece, Mann seems to directly address the visitor to immerse themselves beneath the deep blues and dynamic sweeps of the painting.
Another motif in Mann’s work is layering and weaving. This includes the physical intertwining of multiple layers of paper within a piece, including found paper and cannibalized older paintings. In Dunhuang III, myriad shapes are woven together to create a stunning composite picture—at once awkwardly cobbled together and sensuously layered.
Katherine Tzu-Lan Mann received her Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and her Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant and the Keyholder Fellowship at the Lower East Side Printshop in New York. She has participated as an artist-in-residence at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, the Djerassi Resident Arts Program in Woodside, CA, and the Triangle Workshop in New York, among others. She has been awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and a Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship. Mann is currently an instructor at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
The artist has shown extensively in the Washington-Baltimore area, New York, California, and internationally in Zurich, London, Paris, Taiwan, Toronto, India, and Cameroon. Her work has been reviewed in many publications including the Washington Post, the Baltimore City Paper, and the Taipei Times.