Kate Bickmore, Kaleidoscopic Fluttering Through Misty Crowns, 2023, oil on canvas, 96 x 66 inches.
Photography courtesy of Zachary Balber
Kate Bickmore: After Rainfall
December 5th, 2023 - January 6th, 2024
Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 6pm
800 NW 22nd Street, Miami, FL 33127
Andrew Reed Gallery announces After Rainfall, Kate Bickmore’s first solo exhibition in the United States. In this exhibition, the artist’s paintings and watercolors are informed by her own experiences over the past year exploring the subtropical terrain of the Fakahatchee Nature Preserve and Fairchild Botanical Gardens as well as the surrounding environs of her studio in Maine. Bickmore’s profound appreciation of nature lends to flora imbued with life and agency, communicating with each other as focal points within their lush atmospheres. At times, these flora take on a sexually charged connotation: representative of Kate’s romantic encounters as a highly sensitive queer woman. According to the artist: “After Rainfall implies the end of a difficult time. The rain clears away the dirt and grime and makes everything smell fresh. It is needed to make plants grow: water is integral to life. Similarly, this show is about learning how to keep going after a difficult time, and finding community and growth in a new place.”
From Bickmore’s extensive photo library, she digitally collages and sketches on images to mock up the paintings’ composition. She then creates botanical miniatures in watercolor to consider how to translate the image in oils. Finally, Bickmore methodically builds up layers of paint on the canvas to create a space both realistic and fantastic, focused on immersive feeling and sensory expansiveness. Throughout this process she works to better understand her awe-inspired experiences with nature and relationship to it, with the flowers as her guide.
Dancing Meteors Burn Below the Horizon and On the Shoreline Before the Setting Sun feature day lilies as their protagonists, staged in the former within verdant overgrowth and in the later with the Atlantic in the near distance. Meanwhile, the towering Kaleidoscopic Fluttering Through Misty Crowns portrays a cadre of orchid flowers greeting the viewer from above, the lush canopy of Fairchild Tropical Gardens visible beyond. Water droplets inundate the surface of the central orchid, which is in hyper focus, as its neighbors gradually fade. As Bickmore does across the grouping of works in After Rainfall, the flowers which most command our attention are rendered in a hyper-detail of Kate’s own visual language, while those further back meld brushwork with form.
Instead of being depicted as passive victims or objects of the male gaze, Bickmore’s larger-than-life flowers have limitless physicality, queer individuality, and cosmic connectivity. The figurative plants recede into an otherworldly place and emerge into our physical one: creating a boundary-less space of exploration and contemplation. Similarly, Bickmore explores nature in search of the sublime. She travels around the world documenting her intimate observations through writing and photography, as well as working with florist Samuel Thomas to create floral dioramas in her studio that are lit and photographed for reference. It is one of Thomas’ installations which informs the jungle-like backdrop and dense atmosphere within the monumental painting Illuminated Vessels of a Heavy Heart. Pitcher plants – a carnivorous species – frolic in the foreground, their rims resplendent and a fiery glow cast from within. A sequence of photographs of this diorama, photographed by Lucien Pinchon, is currently on display in the Design District. Sprayed mist, evident in some of these photographs, furthers the realism of a swampy unknown, lush and fertile with life, wet and glimmering post rainfall.
Photography courtesy of Zachary Balber