Goldfinch Flies through 'Astral Plane'

KT Hawbaker, Chicago Tribune, August 31, 2017

"Wrap Around It" is among Kate McQuillen's work on display. (Goldfinch)



In a 2014 interview with Vice, Eddie Brooks, co-founder of the Modern Lovers, said of frontman Johnathan Richman's early love life, "He really wanted to meet girls, but not knowing how to do it, he focused on the astral plane, in which he could meet someone in this world and communicate with her in a dream state." This fixation led to "Astral Plane," a sludgy, star-crossed song on the band's 1976 eponymous album.


With "Meet Me on the Astral Plane" at Goldfinch, Kate McQuillen evokes Richman's ravenous celestial impulses and creates fluid, free-flowing paintings that defy corporeal and gravitational forces. The artist told Greenpointers that her move from Chicago to Brooklyn made Richman's lyrics relatable, inspiring this new ethereal work. "This described where I was in the last year with the uncertainties of moving to a new city and other major life changes while trying to search for something concrete that wasn't there," she says.


With roots in printmaking, McQuillen utilizes a water-based painting technique that relies on lush, wet screenprinted layers. The process transcends the separation between design and artmaking, resulting in a seamless, softly psychedelic image that conjoins McQuillen with Taskashi Murakami's Superflat movement.


"Wrap Around It" is an example of how McQuillen plays with loose frequencies of color and shape. The panel begins with a dusky blue at the bottom and then rises into a bruised purple gradient. The image's movement comes from loops that swing around the center, as if a small plane is skywriting around a fixed point, a meeting ground for the artist's multiple practices. Through Sept. 30, Goldfinch, 319 N. Albany Ave., Chicago;