reviews > COVID-19

A landscape drawing can be many things, but it is almost always a flattening of that endless changeable dimensional place into something able to live on a sheet of paper. A landscape poem does this too. Consider this confluence in Katy Cowan’s Suns Pass Flat, an online exhibit at L.A.’s Philip Martin Gallery of pandemic drawings created in response to a forthcoming book of poetry by her partner SJ Cowan. Her pictures, in ways reminiscent of Klee and Kandinsky, compact and fragment the air, land, sun, water in every shade of the rainbow, including many delightfully unexpected hues. (Purple and red hillsides, absolutely yes.) Composed in watercolor, ink, enamel, and oil paint, they become more sketch-like with the addition of graphite markings. These introduce frames, outlines, scribbles, and shadows, some of which help constitute the depicted landscape, others which highlight its existence as an artwork. Much as I’d like to magically walk right in to the shimmering places of Cowan’s depiction, I prefer the realness of their strange residence on paper. Suns pass flat, indeed.

—Lori Waxman 2020-10-13 11:07 AM