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Bodies That Tell : Painting by Katarina Meglic at the Guesthouse
Tony Gregson, The Island Grapevine | Oct 2017

Katarina Meglic is a well-known teacher of painting at the Community School. The exhibition of six paintings at the Guest House show why she has repeat students.
Our bodies, Katarina believes, have a story to tell. Wet Psalm, a work in mixed media on canvas, is part of a series about the kiss. The canvas is a paean to lovemaking in the passionate tension of anticipation, not only in the gentle power of the man’s hand on the woman’s cheek, and the focus on the dark red of her parted lips, but in the literal rendering of crowded thoughts, kept to ourselves, in the half-legible words overlaid on the figures. The lovers seem to emerge from a scumble of shadowy tones that gel into their bodies, as if they are manifestations of some passionate ether, shaped and energized by line and sharp shadow and even runs of paint. There is suspense and hope as this story begins.

Untitled, a second canvas in this series, captures the kiss in a totally different light, an ambiguous moment of troubled acceptance or realization, the man’s head blocked in stiffly, with the self-containment of a fact. The wild streaking brushstrokes next to the woman’s puffed sleeve suggest a burning bush of warning.

There are other ways to tell a story. Blindsided and Diving Deep use gestures reminiscent of ballet in the weightless freedom of an underwater world to express intense emotion and grief. The figures in both pictures are beautifully drawn, illumined by light from above. The green translucence of the water conveys an otherworldly sense. Dream-like fragments of phrases hinting at the disaster of betrayal drift over Blindsided like pond weed or fish, as the woman drifts in elegant sensory deprivation.

Diving Deep is the arrival, the start of something awful. The woman has literally just struck bottom, arms and legs akimbo yet one arm flung back in a painful, strangely formal gesture. The face, just visible, is frozen, still lost in the shock of trauma. But the overall effect is one of classical grace, like some goddess flung down from immortal heights for something she didn’t do.

Katarina had an early interest in the Pre Raphaelites of nineteenth century England whose pictures, rich with contextual detail, and graceful, idealized lovers are explicitly story-telling. She studied at the Victoria College of Art and went on to look at a lot of art, especially in Spanish museums.

With a child and a job, she doesn’t have all the time in the world, but she is fortunate in her facility. She is able to paint quickly, and if it doesn’t work out, has no hesitation in starting again.

“Drawing informs everything,” she believes, as her skill and freedom in rendering the human figure shows. Her focus is usually the human figure but lately she has developed an unexpected “obsession” – cats. Feline has all the tension of a cat’s scrutiny, looking at something we can’t see and all the qualities that make cat’s beautiful – their grace, lithe bodies, and latent agility. Where this sudden interest came from, who can say, but she feels cats have something else that you might say the rest of the works in this show attempt to struggle with: sincerity of relationship.

 

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