By Marjorie Kaye
Upon walking into the space inhabited by Vicki Kocher Paret’s gouache paintings, one is taken immediately to a cool forest floor covered in pine needles as if sprung out of the deepest recesses of memory. The temperature in these woods can be readily felt by the senses. Sounds and visual sensations arise automatically as one’s countenance is stilled by the calming presence of trees and grasses. The light shines through branches and leaves, revealing scents of things thriving in the warmth of the sun.
In contrast to the strictly nature-oriented works in this exhibition are urban layering of
constructions held in tandem with the trees that surround them. Ms. Paret is particularly
interested in the casting of shadows on the houses, creating a striking dialogue between the natural world and human-made forms.
Vicki works in gouache from her own photographs. At first she reports experiencing a
disassociation from the blank canvas; then the process begins and the forms appear. Over the trails in New England, to the deep forests in Tennessee and Utah, to the riverbeds in South Africa, Ms. Paret has conveyed a sense of subtle differentiation in the nature of the woods.
Observation is mirrored in tiny details—one gets the sense of the essence of each acre of land being visited. There are subtle changes in flora from one area of latitude to the other.
Passage: Alewife Reservation, 12 x 9 in. each (diptych), gouache on panel
Passage: Alewife Reservation is a diptych in which light and shadow are sharply contrasted. This is masterfully rendered in the grasses brimming with small yellow flowers superimposed over the background of a dark copse of trees. There is a flow from one panel to the next, and the mound shape in between brings the two panels together, creating an interchange of dynamic direction and energy. One can almost see the butterflies and insects alight upon the flowers, the flora abuzz in life and celebration.
Passage: Provincetown, 24 x 18 in., gouache on panel
In Passage: Provincetown the eye follows a meandering path through the woods. Depth is created in the scene by the flow of this pathway, and it appears to lead to a field of open sky. Anyone familiar with Provincetown knows that one cannot venture too far without coming to the vast ocean, and the lit sky in this piece suggests this inevitability. However, the woods are a world all its own, the flora dependent on the salt air for its sustenance, but enclosed in a supernatural singularity.
Neighborhood 12, 12 x 12 in., gouache on panel
Neighborhood 12 addresses the angular quality of the structure, enhanced by shadows dancing across the surface. We are returned to the kinetic energy of an urban scenario. In the city there is a layering of forms, structures, and the occasional tree, especially in residential neighborhoods. Rooftops crisscross the vistas, interspersed with trees, creating a language of interdependency.
The artist’s paintings are a meditative reflection of her personal visual contemplation.
As Paret notes in her exhibition statement, there are “visual pathways through light, water and openings in the forest floor”.
Each detail is a prelude to the awareness of the wholeness of the
natural world she is observing.
Light shines like diamond replicas
Of the hidden layers of leaves
Vicki Kocher Paret, Among Trees: October 30-December 1, 2019. Visit Galatea Fine Art at 460 Harrison Ave, #B-6, Boston, MA 02118, 616-542-1500. Gallery hours: Wednesday–Sunday 12-5pm and by appointment.