Gail Catlin is known for having pioneered a new and exciting way of producing images, using liquid crystal to create "living" paintings. Though she initially developed it in collaboration with Dr Cyril Hilsum (one of the co-inventors of the hologram), Catlin pushed the boundaries of her medium in such a way that she was able to anticipate the liquid crystals’ responses to light, to temperature and to each other. A magical relationship developed between the artist and her medium, lying midway between predictable science and fickle art.
The highly sensitive substance responds immediately to changing intensities of temperature and light with dramatic shifts of colour, reflectivity and sheen. It has enabled Catlin to create a kaleidoscopic pictorial surface. Its dynamic chromatic mutations inject added visual drama and excitement to the artist’s chosen themes of wilderness, beauty, decay and growth, of predator and prey.
In ‘Catlin at 71’, the artist has refined the language of her work over the last decades into a series of images printed on archival pearlised paper and mounted on Diasec, capturing her life-long fascination with the nacreous and translucent. The bronzes included in the body of work materialise her mark-making, and deepen the sense of connection to the wild.
Catlin’s works remind us that all of nature is elusive, unable to be captured imprisoned. Seasons change. Life begins and ends, and starts again. Nothing ever stays the same.
Catlin was born in 1948 in Johannesburg. She worked as a set builder in the film industry and as a food stylist before focusing on fine art (though some would consider her an alchemist, scientist and magician as well as an artist). Her work is included in a number of prestigious local and international collections. She currently lives in Cape Town.