Cate Maddy

Best Imitation

April 7- April 26 2012

"I can do my best imitation / of a garden at midnight / I can do my best imitation / of the land / the bits and pieces the fragrant / things hanging green moss / slow moving rivers / still billabongs and foxes / that should not be there / I can do my best imitation / of things that have been broken / and been put back together / ragged and ravaged by storms and life / I can do my best imitation of myself / living with nature / but these things are not true / or real / they are just my best imitation." Cate Maddy 2012

Melbourne-based Cate Maddy creates beautiful artificial worlds to assuage her longing for nature and a feeling of disconnectedness from it. "I choose to work from the reality of my life in the city," says Maddy. "The works aim to create a dialogue between silences and spaces - landscapes of shapes and shadows which hint at many different meanings. My paintings are as if scraped off the cities' walls, rubbed as in the grafittied lane ways and coloured by technology. They are synthetic hybrids, a tangle of storms and the bits that grow out of the cracks in the pavement - all exaggerated to create my best imitation of the great Australian landscape tradition."

In accordance with the maxim that an artist must be witness to his or her own experience, Maddy's landscapes have naught to do with sweeping plains, wooded hills or pastoral vistas. Instead, her bright-hued canvases manifest an acceptance of place and urban reality. They offer a window into another order of perception - the poetic linking of landscape and human existence. Here we may discover beauty in the most unlikely locales.

Rich with metaphorical resonances, Maddy's works describe an abstracted, indomitable Nature. Opaque, petaloid motifs and translucent balls appear to hover over rain-washed surfaces; simple shapes that suggest rather than represent. There is a sense of airy space among the shadow play of silhouetted weeds, twisting branches and seedpods dangling. It seems as if dormant potentiality and delight have been rekindled in Maddy's dancing visual fields.

Hers is an art predicated on process, the continuum of daily living, contemplation and the organic logic of design. Modulating between density and transparency, addition and subtraction, between what is seen and what has been obscured, Maddy conjures an exceptionally elegant harmony.

Commenting on her creative processes, Maddy explains, "I collect colour combinations like other people collect trinkets. I like my markings to be ‘once removed' from the original, source imagery which I render in a less defined, yet persuasive way. A form may look like a splash of paint, a biomorph or a tree branch, but it is in fact a hand-painted ‘trace'. The use of certain materials reflects my city culture of spray paint and posca pens. When the work is alive and has a voice of its own, I stop. The finished piece is always a surprise."

Despite the exuberant colours and continual interplay of visual relationships, these are essentially quiet works of great delicacy and aesthetic joy. Maddy's paintings induce the kind of silent reverie that one might experience when immersed in the energies of wild, natural places. They affirm Paul Klee's famous tenet, "Art does not reproduce the visible, rather, it makes visible". Functioning as a meditation that enables us to "dwell poetically" despite situation and circumstance, Maddy's Best Imitation is unquestionably successful!

Cate Maddy's prodigious talent gained early recognition in the award of a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction from RMIT, as well as the RMIT & Siemen's Travel Scholarship that she utilized to visit New York.


» Back to previous page