Katerina Apale’s artwork are on exhibition at KAB Gallery Sydney now.
Complex, ornamental, and uniquely rich in colour, Katerina Apale paints with a passion that undoubtedly showcases the essence of Australia.
After moving from Latvia to the sunny east coast of Australia, Apale was presented with an entirely new array of flora and fauna. So vastly different to what she had previously experienced, this gave her a chance to focus her artistic career on the interplay of light with the fluid shapes of quintessentially Australian birds, flowers, and the patterns they created.
Anyone who has moved away from home town or country can understand the breadth and weight of new experiences. Often exciting, daunting, and every emotion in between, it is clear Apale felt it all. Still Life with Proteas and Lorikeets is one such work that showcases this intricacy.
Strong with texture, you can almost feel the emotion behind her brush. Apale isn’t one to flick some colour across a canvas, add a contrasting guiding line, and call it a day. Her works are thoroughly planned and considered – the composition alone should tell us this. And while the former could warrant a nonchalant ten second viewing from someone looking for so much more, the latter is what they inevitably land on.
And it’s easy to see why.
Apale manages to saturate the colours of our everyday realit, so they read as intensely charismatic. When we view her work – Still Life with Proteas and Lorikeets included – we can’t help but feel joyous. By using every colour available to her, Apale’s work reaches beyond any one single line of interest, instead touching on a multitude of aspects to pique one’s attention. When you see it in person you’ll surely agree; she’s an artist for all, not just the few.
Still Life with Proteas and Lorikeets boasts an impressive array of classic Australiana. Beaches and beachgoers, paw paw, magpies, native flowers, rolling hills, rainclouds and sailboats are a few of the elements Apale has managed to squeeze into the confines of a canvas. Undeniably bursting at the seams, it appears her creativity is only stifled by the size of her frame. Yet while her works hold a great magnitude of imagery, they never seem crowded, overloaded, too busy – they always manage to be perfectly balanced.
I think it is this harmony, this air of ironic tranquillity, that connects us to her work. We as an audience can understand the overwhelming sensory experience Apale went through in her move to Australia, because we live it every day. She manages to send us hurtling back into a realm of nostalgia, a space where we can reminisce on any encounter with Australia, yet simultaneously cements us into the present moment, our experience as we live it right now.
When we look out our window or drive along any given stretch of road, we’re confronted with a tremendous array of incredible beauty that somehow we’ve lost touch with. While repetition grants us a sense of safety or comfort, it can also steal away the justified ‘awe factor’ of things. It’s like when you visit a new country and the locals don’t really seem to care about the grand scenery around them, yet you can’t stop admiring it for different it is from what you know.
Apale breathes beauty into these commonplace occurrences we might have let slip by the wayside. Her work, and perhaps artistic endeavour itself, encourages us to either find our own long-lost gratitude of our lived experience, or cultivate a brand new one based on this new-found retrospection. It seems Apale is not just an artist but a welcome agent of change – through her work and especially her vibrant engagement of colour and textural interest, we are prompted to learn more about our surroundings, ourselves, and the artistic renditions of each that ultimately shape our understanding of Australian culture and how we fit into it.
(written by Immy