This week sees the opening of the latest exhibition at the Norman Rea Gallery where Katrine Roberts is pushing the boundaries of even contemporary portraiture with her lurid and vivacious paintings. Her pieces range from the miniscule to the gigantic, but where they lack proportional similarity, they exude a common sentiment: the desire to transgress the traditional boundaries of portraits, and even paint itself, to create a work which interacts with the subconscious of the viewer.
Roberts work focuses largely on the physical and metaphysical aspects of the body, and in particular, skin, which she describes as a porous membrane. Unlike the common perception of the body, a self contained unit that the skin enfolds and protects, Roberts reflects the more malleable aspects of the skin within her works. The vast brush strokes, in such a variety of eclectic colours, do not stand separate from one another within the confines of regulated space, but amalgamate and diffuse within each other, to give the impression that the faces they creating are, in some way, fused with their very substance.
Her medium is furthermore a perusal of her metaphysical subject. She uses toxic paint strippers within her work to scale away layers of the paint, and reveal their bare undercoats. In a metaphorical sense, this is a means by which the porous skins can be seen to be removed, and the underlying matter can react with its outside surroundings. Her paintings are portraits in the loosest sense of the word. They are more an exploration of the limits to which portraits can be taken, and the multitude ways with which the face and skin are not as singularly governed as we might imagine.