Bakhoum's emphasis on tonality and the effects of light on form and color set her painting style apart, since it is derived from the longstanding European atelier tradition of classical art. She combines these techniques to bring to life the mesmerizing world of her imagination influenced by the magic of the orient.
In her 16th showing at Safarkhan, longtime resident talent Katherine Bakhoum brings us a new stellar output in her traditionally classical style of painting. This time Bakhoum reverts to a predominant focus of her artistic oeuvre in the portrayal of the various cultural facets of the orient, which she has now accomplished in oil for the first time. Bakhoum’s artistic style is a marriage of her multicultural upbringing, which saw her spend her childhood years in Egypt, before moving to her also-native France later on. In this showing we see her characteristic realism in abundance yet again, where she shows an adeptness and mastery of theatrical lighting and staging of her subjects and themes ranging from landscapes to portraits to figurative group settings and scenes of an oriental nature. Her emphasis on tonality and the effects of light on form and color set her painting style apart, since it is derived from the longstanding European atelier tradition of classical art. She combines these techniques to bring to life the mesmerizing world of her imagination influenced by the magic of the orient.
Bakhoum is renowned above all as an expert colorist, with the talent for combining diverse hues and working her palette in ways that few other artists can master. In this collection, we see her characteristic patterned backgrounds and rich drapery which attribute her works a sense of regal poise. There are dreamy landscape vistas, and intriguingly dressed characters set amidst layered and stylized bordering and backgrounds, that appear deeper than merely decorative aspects of her canvases. We are also treated to vast vistas and landscapes which she punctuates with tiny figures to give a grand sense of scale and perspective, as these figures blend in perfect harmony and unison with their environments.
Bakhoum directs our attention with intuitive and detailed brushstrokes to the flowing garments and costumes of her subjects, as well as their intimate expressions and postures, which in many cases speak a wordless language of their own. There is a concerted effort to depict stage-wear in all its grandiosity, typically one of the striking aspects of Bakhoum’s art, and this collection is no exception. We often see billowing dresses with ornate embellishments, oriental subjects and characters such as; dervishes, ladies in waiting, men and women in oriental garb, religious iconography, and outerwear from Bedouin to Geisha, cloaked in resplendent clothing that seamlessly blends with the patterns and aesthetics of their backgrounds. Bakhoum’s landscapes are ephemeral dreamscapes conjured from the artist’s rich imagination, one might even associate these impressions with stage design due to their almost idyllic yet seemingly natural impression. Bakhoum’s art renders the significance of time-honored classical training and skill in dessin and painting, a practice increasingly rare amongst today’s fast-changing and experimental contemporary art scene.