Kate Lehman and Travis Schlaht, a couple both in life and in their creative work, are each on a quest for pictorial excellence. Bolstered by shared aesthetic references and singular identities, their artistic dialog examines the tension between realism and contemporaneity. Both have favored painting as their primary medium, and portrayal as their field of […]
Kate Lehman and Travis Schlaht, a couple both in life and in their creative work, are each on a quest for pictorial excellence. Bolstered by shared aesthetic references and singular identities, their artistic dialog examines the tension between realism and contemporaneity.
Both have favored painting as their primary medium, and portrayal as their field of research. Kate Lehman and Travis Schlaht split their time between NYC and Paris. Their path oscillates between an American predilection for high technical standards - with hints of nostalgia for a distant 19th century - and a quasi-dogmatic supremacy of ideas over form cultivated by French taste. Between these impulses, and supported by an active and eclectic community of artists, they never fail to question the meaning of contemporary figurative painting and its resolute universality.
Kate Lehman’s work abounds in striking references to the old masters, to Klimt, and more surprisingly, to Egyptian antiquity. Her warm, vibrant portraits revisit Fayum mummy portraits, immortalizing the energy of the people she captures. From a childhood nurtured by art, a family passion, Kate has retained a fascination for stories told by places and objects, for the souls of things. The path which led her to art was revealed from a young age and followed through with rigorous arts training. Despite devoting years to the technical aspects of painting, she was still not satisfied. Turning to sculpture as an outlet for her weariness, she found her way back to the joys of painting through a series of experimentations on copper. Its smooth, bright surface opened an infinite array of explorations on materials and colors. Patina craters and abstract, organic shapes contrast with the fine features of faces, or the softness of a palette, unfolding landscapes of sensitive geography, at once tender and tumultuous.
As for Travis Schlaht, he never considered becoming a painter. For him, painting and drawing are a second skin. Travis Schlaht experiments with the world through his art, never freer or safer as when he is painting. His work acts as a filter, boosting our perception and understanding of places and people. Ultimately, it is a vital tool for detaching ourselves from the commotion of the world, and in so doing, revealing its essence. Spending hours with his models, he offers portraits that go well beyond fixed representations of glimpsed faces. Barely grazing his canvases with meticulous brush strokes, he shapes chiseled landscapes and still lifes to reveal bouquets of feeling, effortlessly communing with his surrounding world.
Far from precious, old-fashioned classicism, Kate Lehman and Travis Schlaht’s work is an invitation to slow the pace of our frenetic lives and focus on the range of human qualities in a celebration of simple contemplation. Universal. Topical.