5/7/10 6:46 PM
Kamouraska is a town on the shores of the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec. I know this because a) I’m from Montreal, which is also in Quebec, and b) I googled it. Kamouraska is also the title of a brushy abstract painting by Vickie Mitchell, who was educated in Montreal and returns to the region regularly. I’d hazard a guess and say that she has been to Kamouraska and composed this diptych inspired by what she saw and experienced there. The picture itself, like most though not all of her work, does not give this connection up so easily. It sketchily combines patches of burnt orange, periwinkle blue, bright turquoise, deep purple, forest green and more to form an impressionistic space that suggests a complex natural landscape, but mostly if you already know the title reference. Without it, the painting presents an intricately worked surface wide open to all kinds of readings. Mitchell is in good territory here, so to speak, one trod most memorably by British painter Howard Hodgkin, whose celebrated oeuvre presents a lifetime of place and people memories through richly worked abstractions, painted right to the tips of their frames. And though Hodgkin, among others, has been there before, it’s a big world out there waiting to have all of its corners experienced and represented. Fortunately, Mitchell paints with an illuminating intensity that rewards imaginative looking and says much of her own vision outward.