Throughout his career Charles Katz was committed to painting in the abstract tradition and was highly influenced by the New York School. In his writings from the late 80’s Charles noted his intention “to communicate man’s attempts to understand and express the mysterious crossroads where individual awareness meets the collective unconscious”

In the 80’s Charles worked primarily with acrylics and with a youthful vigor he explored size, gesture and color. Following in the footsteps of some abstract expressionists, he used the technique of painting directly onto unprepared canvas which absorbed the acrylic and muted some of the colors. In the painting Aerial Freed the massive strokes and bright reds in the foreground evoke a highly personal sense of joy on a dark substrate. The gestural nature of this painting, the random vertical movements of the reds speak to a flight of fancy and the liberation of Shakespeare’s mythical literary shit disturber. Although most of his 80’s paintings are large in gesture and scale, there is something a little tentative about his use of the medium – the paint itself is thinly spread and not yet pushed or built up with confidence.

When he returned to Toronto, Charles reduced his scale and began to seriously experiment with and push his materials. Still in the abstract tradition, this time working with the discipline of grids on board, or amorphous organic forms, he pushed paint on top of paint working with both acrylics and oils. In paintings
like Circle Yellow, or Awakening Spiral, the paints were mixed with an intensity of color into which he introduced wax for a muted effect, or non-traditional elements – sand, marble dust, broken glass. In these paintings he simultaneously works up the surface and reveals a subtext. According to Charles, these materials served to alter the surface tension, to break the context in which the viewer relates to surface composition, to magnify and evoke attack, texture, color and tone.

In his last years of his life he secretly worked on two series of paintings – one muted and the second bright and expressive – both untitled. The first, a series of experimental paintings on large format paper, starting with a thin wash of color, moving inward on the paper to hard acrylic grids that are finally built up with the addition of his signature elements marble dusts and broken glass. These evoke a weighty pyramid effect built up on shifting sand – in this case paper. With the second series he returned to unprepared and un-stretched canvas and this time he built up his paints with a newfound confidence. The eight works, of varying sizes and shapes, break with tradition and have white as the under-painting and are built up to a darkness that simultaneously evokes an internal and external abstract landscape. And then there is a random, unexpected, narrow gesture of bright color and light.

Click on the thumbnails below to view paintings.