exhibition text for Sara Maston, WATERSNAKE, 2019

The Stories of Shades
exhibition text for Jennifer Carvalho, 2018

These are the stories of shades; A shadow occurs when light is blocked by something opaque resulting in a dark column of shade in its wake. The cross section of a shadow is a two-dimensional silhouette, a flattened but detailed outline that becomes visible when described on the next available surface1. A branch sits next to a tree trunk bearing its own outline, resulting in an ontological uncertainty for the branch. Unlike the printing process, the closeness of object and shadow means that what is lost in translation is often clearly visible through comparison. The shadow is a literal description of what is lost and gained in replication, refinement and exclusion; the same but different. In Jennifer Carvalho's paintings the constant fluttering and change of light on described surfaces produces a system of exchange and interdependence. Underneath the forest ceiling, leaves and branches filter light, the arms of trees reach sideways, brushing, scratching, and covering surfaces beside and below. Each is supported and entangled in a symbiotic relationship with its environment, simultaneously protected and compromised by its nearest neighbours. The environments in her paintings are shelters for mossy growth, where dry swamp puddles give way to lichen growing over top of fallen branches. Every part lives and grows in direct relationship to another and that closeness is demanded; immersion a necessary part of experience.

These are the stories of shades; The landscapes in Carvalho's paintings depict forests, riverbeds, and fields sourced from films. They are images of the natural world already selected, lit, and cropped through the lens of a camera and chosen for their ability to contribute to the arc of a storyline. As we know, images of nature in film often perform as stand-ins for something else: the myth of the forest meant to activate, depending on genre, feelings of wonder, strangeness, or fear of an unknown. The forest can be seen as an already-known character to its viewers, not named as specific location with navigable directions and coordinates, but a role meant to conjure recognition and feeling. The forest that represents the unknown or the strange might be a different thing for different viewers, but nonetheless it creates a connective thread of emotional response. At the same time, film is a filter that changes the shape and feeling of the natural world, and creating paintings from screenshots presents an alternative view of a traditional method of creating or sourcing landscape.


By painting screenshots, Carvalho reflects the way our memories often create hybrids of the natural and fabricated world, combining personal experience with movies and shows. The paintings portray something known through a multitude of sensory experiences, like watching, running in a field, looking up while swimming, looking and listening. They further highlight the process of filtering that is integral to knowing, understanding our experiences and processing them, seeing them change in different light.

These are the stories of shades; sap green, terre verte, cadmium green, burnt umber, raw sienna, linseed, walnut, and tung oil. Each of Carvalho's paintings are comprised of a close range of pigments, from acid yellowish greens to blackish browns, while small patches of white gesso and red underpainted sketches peer through from behind. They are colours that tighten the gap between object and subject, because of the way their pigment references the places depicted. Sap Green is a rich mid-range green with a yellow undertone, originally a lake pigment made from unripe Buckthorn berries. Burnt Umber is made from natural brown clays found in earth, burning the raw pigment to further intensify its colour2. The dense greens of the vegetation and earth colours are the very materials used in these paintings and this changes the flow of time. The relationship between rocks and leaves is mirrored in the layers of paint and oil. The physical space depicted in the paintings, the distance between each tree, is replicated in small vertical brushstrokes one on top of another. The two spaces, the forest and the studio, are both present in the work when deep space is created through the visible marks of the brush. The distance between objects, between molecules and bodies exists in relation to the trees further accentuating an intimacy between bodies and materials.

When paint is mixed with oil, thin layers of semi-transparent colour darken and alter those pigments already applied beneath. The layers create translucent shadows that change depending on conditions of light and vantage. Layers that represent the physical action of laying down paint and captured time, contained within each layer, as a story, as a shade.

by Katie Lyle

2 http://www.winsornewton.com/na/shop/water-colour/professional-water-colour?colourid=50694822

exhibition text for Catherine Telford Keogh, Evans Contemporary, 2018

Kakaesque Journal, Franz Kaka at Art Toronto, 2017

To Begin, Framework text, Susan Hobbs Gallery, 2017