Caty Forden

- Being There

Being There - text by artist and professor Jeanine Coupe Ryding from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 2019, on Berlin series.

Caty Forden’s recent paintings focus on modern Berlin. We see rectangular structures that loom in the city scape, factories turned into condos, the spaces around them such as parking lots and 4 lane avenues They reveal the distance between the architecture and the people. As observers, we are across the street, at the bus stop, looking out of a window or in the studio.

These places appear familiar even if we have never been there, exactly. The time of day, weather, and atmosphere are captured in the relationships of color to forms. What seems familiar becomes an abstract composition of curves and rectangles and then, back again to a cityscape. Like a magic slight of hand, but the transition happens in the act of looking at the painting.

We see Bauhaus apartment buildings and industrial scenes come alive with colorful rectangles. It is easy to be swept into these images and be rewarded by lingering there a while, watching as an ordinary place fluctuates between intimate, familiar and abstract.

Forden’s gaze is analytical and intelligent but not cold. Her paintings welcome with warm, soft colors on hard surfaces or they can reflect a damp chill and loneliness as in “Apartment on Karl-Marx Allee”. They question where we live and work and find the human elements. “Just Around the Corner” takes a Fauvist approach to color. A yellow, featureless building looms against the deep blue of the sky. An arch appears when the sky is left unfinished revealing the red under painting and a long, dark shadow anchors the bottom left corner, sweeping us up into the composition. Long afternoon shadows of late winter take us down the street into the distance in “Before the Light Changes”. The low angle of the sun warms surfaces and we see workers below street level on the right side and apartment buildings reaching to the sky on the left side. “In the Studio”, painted in quick strokes, invites us into the cool space of a first floor studio on a warm afternoon. The door is open and there is a seat. We join the painter looking out of the door, beyond the familiar. These urban spaces seem quiet with little traffic and few pedestrians or perhaps a vacant parking lot. Just the painter and now us to bear witness.