On November 4th, Hauser & Wirth will open Westward Ho!, its first solo exhibition with Allison Katz, whose critically admired work addresses the ways in which aesthetic practices link and absorb autobiography, art history, information systems and commodity culture. On view at Hauser & Wirth’s West Hollywood location in Los Angeles, this presentation will debut new paintings, some of which were completed during her recent residency at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, alongside site-specific responses to the architecture of the gallery’s 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival building. Katz’s paintings are informed – and united – by her relentless curiosity about the ways in which images perform and construct meaning. The artist skillfully combines surface materiality, word play and humor with literary and cultural references, imagining paintings as interconnected sites of metaphysical transformation.
Westward Ho! is Allison Katz’s first Los Angeles solo exhibition and follows her participation in The Milk of Dreams, the 59th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale curated by Cecilia Alemani.
About the Exhibition
In Westward Ho! Katz creates a cosmos by overlapping disparate images and narratives from visual culture, her own past, and the coincidences that gather around her. The title firmly locates us, with tongue-in-cheek undertones, inside the gallery in West Hollywood (WeHo), California. It was Katz’s specific request to exhibit here, in a desire to engage with its associated cultural mythologies: “Hollywood is a big picture and I should like to know what it means to walk the walk, or drive the drive, of the Pacific coast, with its last–resort, up to the edge, atomized light…if this is the birthplace of the silver screen, then it’s a chance to test out painting’s irrefutable material and impure surface, its porous consciousness…”
The title blends historical and literary allusions, tracing back originally to the calls made by Elizabethan ferryman as they navigated the River Thames in search of passengers. As Katz writes: “I’m using Westward Ho! as a call out, a whoop of exuberance, a question hollered across time and tradition to see who and what answers, as if to test the idea that painting is a conversation.”
Throughout the exhibition Katz deploys a constantly evolving set of techniques and source materials. Echoes, rhymes and serendipities erupt; meaning is reordered and unexpected genealogies converge. ‘West’ is the neighborhood in which the gallery is located, the direction Katz’s apartment faces in London, a catch-all term for a geopolitical system in the midst of being challenged, and an alias for the pastoral patch of English countryside where she worked in residence (the West Country). While preparing for the exhibition she also visited the ruins of Pompeii (in the context of the institutional program Pompeii Commitment), where the discovery of wall paintings buried under ash continues to play a central role in the origin story of Western figuration.
Allison Katz was born in Montreal, Canada in 1980 and currently lives and works in London, England. She studied fine arts at Concordia University in Montreal and received her MFA from Columbia University in New York in 2008. Katz received widespread critical recognition for her first traveling UK solo exhibition ‘Artery’ at Nottingham Contemporary in 2021 and Camden Art Centre in 2022, with the accompanying exhibition catalogue released in 2023. Her work was included in the 59th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale curated by Cecilia Alemani. In 2022, Katz was an inaugural Fellow of Pompeii Commitment, the first contemporary art program of the Archaeological Park of Pompeii. Additional significant institutional solo exhibitions of her work have been organized by the MIT List Center for the Arts, Cambridge, MA; Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada; and Kunstverein Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany. Katz has a forthcoming exhibition at Aspen Art Museum, CO in 2024.
Allison Katz Westward Ho! will be on display at Hauser & Wirth from November 4. 2023 – January 5, 2024. You can join Allison and art historian Suzanne Hudson for a talk at 5pm on Friday November 3rd preceding the opening reception from 6 – 8 pm. Register for the talk here.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.