Introducing abstract painter Cat Spilman
RHODES is excited to introduce our newest artist, Cat Spilman. 

Cat Spilman is an American-born artist living and working in the UK. Her work addresses the themes of distance and separation, belonging, modern feminism and motherhood.

Her new collection of works showcases an artistic process that is raw and cathartic. The use of bold shape alongside her organic colour palette creates a striking and considered visual landscape. 

Having come from a career as a Scenic Artist for film and television in her home city of New York, house paint was a natural choice of medium, having worked with it for years. The thick paint creates beautiful textures and depths to her work, the brushstrokes creating patterns within themselves.

Spilman made the conscious decision to limit her colour palette, finding two tones which worked together well, and allowing the true focus of the work to be in the composition and energy.

Cat Spilman
The Curl, 2022
House paint and crayon on canvas
Unique Signed Original
75 x 60 cm
29 1/2 x 23 5/8 in

Learning from her young daughter, Spilman wants to create works of pure creativity and energy, beyond self-criticism. Unlearning what is expected of her as an artist, she follows the natural energy of each piece to create something completely unique.

We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to interview Cat Spilman regarding her creative practice, motives and her newest collection with us:

Hi Cat, thanks for joining us today. We would love to know, what's the starting place for your paintings?

I start each painting with a simple ritual - I prime the canvas then draw an interior frame on the piece with black crayon. It sounds incredibly basic but for me that gets me into the piece and feels like the beginning of the conversation. I don't use a ruler or straight edge, so the black line is different on every piece; sometimes it's straighter or more crooked than others and that's the first bit of information I have as to what the rest of the piece should be. 

Cat Spilman
Tucked Away, 2022
House paint and crayon on canvas
Unique Signed Original
120 x 100 cm
47 1/4 x 39 3/8 in

What materials do you use in your work and why?

I use house paint for a few reasons. Before moving to England, I was a Scenic Artist for film and television in New York. We use house paints when working on sets, and I like the consistency of it and how quickly it dries. I wanted paint that I could buy in large quantities and that I would never have to mix, so my colours would be precise and consistent.

When I started my own work, I realized I wanted to limit my colour palette to be as minimal as possible so I wouldn't be overwhelmed with choice and could focus on strong designs within each piece. I've always worked in monochrome (my thesis film at School of Visual Arts was on black & white 16mm reversal film) so choosing these colours felt like the most-sincere representation of my aesthetic. 

What kind of themes do you explore in your creative practice?

My life has been a whirlwind the last few years. I had a baby, faced a global pandemic, moved to a new country, and lost my husband to cancer.  I have been forced to explore depths of emotions I didn't know existed five years ago and I think I'm only just beginning to process most of them. These all come through in my work. Some paintings are joyful, and I feel happy when I recognize old parts of myself in them. Others are uncomfortable to address, but still necessary. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part I approach each painting without a specific outcome in mind, and it's only after the piece is completed that I can step back and say, "oh wow, I think this one is about..." It's almost like interpreting a dream, where only the next morning can you decipher it objectively. 

Cat Spilman
Cosmos, 2022
House paint and crayon on canvas
Unique Signed Original
150 x 120 cm
59 1/8 x 47 1/4 in


What draws you to abstract painting style?

I don't think there's any other way I could paint what's in my mind in a way that I respected. If I tried to be more representational while still addressing the same ideas, I would feel too overt. Painting the way I do, I hope people can interpret them and relate in some way, but I'm also still able to hide behind them and paint what feel like secret conversations with myself.  

What does your choice of colour palette communicate to the viewer?

The colour palette is simple, but I find it quite communicative and versatile. I don't paint in black and white; the colours are a cream and a rich, inky black that I think relate to each other in a beautiful way. Because the palette is so simple though, and because it is so consistent throughout my work, I hope that it forces the viewer to focus on the texture, movement, and energy of a piece. 

Cat Spilman
If Not For You, 2022
House paint and crayon on canvas
Unique Signed Original
60 x 50 cm
23 5/8 x 19 3/4 in

What does the future hold for your practice?

I'm learning more and more all the time about myself and my preferences in my work. I love working on a large scale and my hope is that I can find successful channels to accommodate that, whether in large diptychs like I've done previously or in even larger triptychs (anyone with a huge, empty wall - hit me up!) I have so much more exploring to do with my brushwork and with layering or partially obscuring pieces. I just want to dive deeper really and see what I can find. 

If you would like further information about this new collection, you can contact us via info@rhodescontemporaryart.com or alternatively you can call +44 (0)20 7240 7909
July 28, 2022
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