Portrait of the Artist

Katherine Sable

Order from chaos

By Noelani Kirschner | June 28, 2021
Don't Touch Yet, 2021, oil on canvas.
Don't Touch Yet, 2021, oil on canvas.

Katherine Sable’s recent oil paintings, The Little Death and You Can’t Hide It, center around honeycombs of neon color that metamorphose across the canvas. “I love working my way through chaos and complexity,” she says, “so I tend to set up these disorganized ideas or problems to solve.” Both works tread the line between angst and resolve, beginning with an explosion of color and emotion before settling into a more ordered, centralized web. Sable likens the paintings to figural masses or containers in which “the paint sits within or is seeping out of this organized fretwork-constructed object.”

  • You Can't Hide It, 2020, oil on canvas.

Sable, who originally worked in ceramics, builds her paintings from the ground up, much like she would a clay pot. Her compositions may be inspired by a song lyric, a pattern she’s observed, or a social interaction. Then, as she puts brush to canvas, the colors and organizing principal reveal themselves. “The motivations that I use to begin a painting are endless,” she says, “but I’m really driven by the search aspect in making a painting—using gesture, shape, and color in a way that can be in tune with the complexity of whatever peculiar experience I’m working out.”

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