Kottie Paloma at Galería Alegría

Artist: Kottie Paloma

Exhibition title: Dream Decay

Venue: Galería Alegría, Barcelona, Spain

Date: November 13 – December 30, 2021

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and Galería Alegría, Barcelona

In 2020, the American artist Kottie Paloma (Huntington Beach, California, 1974) left Los Angeles for Alzenau, the small town in Germany where his wife grew up. The reason for this getaway was to find somewhere natural to spend the lockdown, and to flee from the stresses and forest fires of California, as well as escaping from the nationwide psychosis that was erupting amid the American presidential elections. So he spent a year in an odd state of mind, something which he calls a daydream in decay. This state is characterised by uncertainty and paralysis, but also by a permanent feeling of alarm.

The paintings presented by Galería Alegría in “Dream Decay”, Kottie Paloma’s first solo exhibition in Spain, are the fruit of that peculiar mental state. As such, one part of this show transports us to that small Bavarian locality where the artist lived with his family, while the other explores turbulent and frenzied visions of a world in crisis.

In order to map out this strange geography of distancing, alienation and panic, Kottie Paloma uses, in most of the exhibition’s paintings, a furious colour palette. Urgent brushstrokes and convulsing colours suggest haste, disturbance and desperation, but also the exuberance of nature that duly becomes barricade, refuge and hideout. In the other pieces, Paloma revisits his traditional combinations of dual colours, speaking to the necessary equilibrium of forces at the heart of his work. Nevertheless, “Dream Decay” is not just dramaticism and neurosis, for it also offers a strange sense of humour that is reflected in the paintings’ titles, which enrich, add nuance and broaden out the meaning of the works. The exhibition is rounded off with sculptures made from found materials, and they heighten the sense of dreamlike and contradictory decay that serves as the exhibition’s unifying thread.

In this exhibition, Kottie Paloma continues to develop his style, which is somewhere between neo-expressionism and formalism. He presents his characteristic labyrinthine and modular images, arranged as if they were picture puzzles, thus showing the sheer vitality of his own peculiar working methods in all their raw directness. One characteristic part of this procedure is the artist’s use of papers, pressing down on the canvas as if he were making imprints. He thereby reduces the distance between the hand that paints and the final painted representation.

Kottie Paloma leads us into a world in a constant state of flux. It is multifarious and turbulent, and yet it hints at the possibility for a more contemplative gaze. This gaze, although it does not completely rid the world of its decadence and turmoil, does allow it to become a more humane and habitable place.