Kate Vassallo

Refraction, 2021

38 × 30.5 cm
Systems surround us in contemporary life, from the bureaucratic structures of our government to the rules and scripts underlying our digital interfaces. In my art practice, I design materially driven systems as a methodology to produce artworks, combining chance, rules, repetitious labour and serendipitous material textures. Equal parts chance and conscious decision-making in the studio, I hope to visualise a tension between system-based perfection and the looseness inherent in handmade objects. Rules dictate my compositions, order, colour and density.

I am conscious of how my abstract artworks can depict light, often using tone, density and translucence to convey a sense of light refracting. At art school, I majored in Photomedia. Though I haven’t continued to work heavily with light-sensitive materials, a focus on light has continued to underpin what I do.

In recent years, my artworks have used chance-based elements to dictate composition by connecting or layering random points in different ways. This painting is built up with many thin layers of colour. The shape of each layer is mapped out by scattering random points that form negative space when connected together.

Many of my influences originate from the Conceptual Art and Minimalist movements of the 60s and 70s. While being conscious of situating my practice in the contemporary, I find myself nostalgic for a time and place I never experienced. My art practice feels very interlinked with time, the repetitious nature of my mark-making and systems becoming an abstract visual record of time and labour. Sometimes I feel that my time spent labouring in the studio is a form of time travel. While making, I think about the ambiguous nostalgic associations that my artworks can connect to.
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