House Gallery is pleased to present Cover Stories, an exhibition of new work by Denver-based artist Kay Tuttle. The exhibition brings together two bodies of delicate paintings on eclectic surfaces, both of which probe the strange intersections of myth, history and nostalgia.
Tuttle, who paints on found surfaces that already carry their own, enigmatic baggage, she views her practice, in part, as a strange collaboration with unknown makers from eras past. Her “Victorian Drawings,” paintings over daintily stylized Victorian magazine plates, turn refined and fairly uncomplicated renderings into ominous fairy tales—the sort of tales that might have come about had Angela Carter and Edgar Allan Poe collaborated. Refined women become encased in oversized ribcages, birds invadeornate entry ways, and gentlewomen become spiders. The drawings have a poignant honesty to them, as if Tuttle has exposed the ominous strangeness that was there all along.
The “Encyclopedia Paintings,” while less visually complex, are equally weighted down by memory and legacy. An ongoing series, inspired in part by a Grimm’s fairytale about an unlikely group of aging farm animals that strike out alone, these painting use the solemn surfaces of antique encyclopedias as their ground. Animals, painted at the center of these surfaces, are piled on top of each other in nonsensical groups—like a hare on top of a mountain lion, on top of a polar bear. They resonate, childishly, with the way an encyclopedia presents knowledge: as entries that represent generations of accumulated information, stacked one after another, sharing space on the page regardless of whether the ideas or entities they describe could ever coexist in reality.
Cover Stories suggests that the way we make sense of the images, stories and ideas passed down to us will always be a bit uncanny; even if the past informed the present, looking back means defying the forward motion of logic. But Tuttle navigates logic and illogic, past and present, expertly, reviving old stories in order to tell evocative new ones.
Tuttle, who received a BFA from Colorado State University and an MFA from Arizona State University, has exhibited internationally. This is her first solo show with the gallery.