Khara Devlin Gilvey

Francesca Lacunae
Vinegar stain, Oil on wood
8.5×10.5″ 2017
Planet Lacunae
Oil on Wood
15.5×16.5” 2017


How does your work reflect, respond to, or intervene in the real?

I’ve identified within myself what some psychology professionals would refer to as a “control issue.” I mitigate my anxiety by micro-managing my mood: rewards of sweets, bad TV, sleep; crossword puzzles that dissolve my conscious worries, end-of-day teas or spirits, herbal tinctures and trinkets, stones and crystals—all imbued with magic. There is so much of the Real that I cannot control, that I take relish in the aspects that I can (or at least that which allows me to indulge in the illusion that such control exists).

My paintings are an extension of this practice. I focus on the pleasure that the image gives me personally. I paint the parts of the world that I am most drawn to, and I paint them how I see them: bodies and -scapes, the smoothness of a cheek, or the ripple of a cloud, all inextricably tied to the pattern from which they were born, a swirling distortion of carbon and air. Each piece realized is a tiny revolution in my microcosm.


How do you think about your work in relation to the history of particular forms, processes, or artistic genres that you work in or are inspired by?

I’ve encountered people in the art world who think that if you are an artist who paints in the year 2017, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own. While I understand the opinion that painting is boring in its monomodality, outdated and often ignorant of technology, I choose to limit my options of materials instead of expanding them. I use only oil as my medium, and only wood as my canvas. I consider myself to be in process of honing a personal craft, as opposed to a maker who chooses different forms depending on the concept at hand. Let’s say each art form is a different vehicle. Painting is the only car in my garage.

Before painting was my primary focus, I studied poetry. I was fascinated by the constrained writing techniques of the Oulipo group and the intersection of mathematical certainty and the chaos of human creativity. Also, the Language poets who, descendents of Black Mountain, brought “understanding” into investigation as a fluctuating relationship between the world and the artist, the art and the viewer, the self and the other. I believe understanding is always in flux, and infinite in its variations. Contiguous to this, I find limitations to be both comforting and inspiring.

When I think about painting, I think about the European masters that from a very early age I was taught to associate with painting. I don’t think that they represent the peak capability of the medium, or an innate standard of beauty. But in realizing that they encapsulate a culturally biased yet valuable narrative of historical art, each reference to that history, visual or conceptual, is an opportunity to challenge our assumptions, and re-narrativize the past. Oil paint is entrenched in our white-supremacist patriarchy, and as a direct descendent and beneficiary of this supremacy, I think it is important to remain conscious of how this history continues to inform the art we produce, as well as the way the art community assigns value today.