Art in Context III

By Guest Blogger Rachel Swartz

The tropics were a favored subject of the early moderns, a fascination that has spilled over into popular culture. The lush, exotic watery blues, sandy whites, rocky yellows and leafy greens of the Caribbean and Pacific islands were well-suited to the frenetic style of artists such as Paul Gauguin (see Tahitian Landscape, above). Kathryn’s 2006 work shares the same deep attraction to the rich sensuality of the islands, but her piece is unique in that it captures an image common in contemporary advertising photography, one that has come to represent relaxation, luxury, and attainable exoticism, but challenges this very motif through its compositional framing. The palm fronds gently caress the sand, rather than reaching towards the sky; there is no sign of industry, save for two boats and a windsurfing board that seem to suggest a provincial use of land rather than a commercial one. A creator is not wholly present, creating the sense that the viewer himself has stumbled upon this idyllic, quiet place devoid of human contamination, save for the lucky who stumble upon it.