Scratch the Surface

Resonant (LW190511) by Leigh Wells
9.8″x9.8″; collage and mixed media on panel; 2019.
Courtesy of Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco


scratch the surface: Leigh Wells & Kate Nartker

at Jack Fischer Gallery in San Francisco, California, USA
13 July-31 August 2019

“scratch the surface” is a two-person exhibition by Bay Area artists Kate Nartker and Leigh Wells.

Nartker and Wells use two distinct modes of visual imagery to explore the passage of time and how we interact with the world.

In Leigh Wells’ collage and textile works, existing materials such as found paper and fabric, provide inspiration and create layered meaning. She eschews clarity in order to engage with imagined mental states and what is unseen. While her work appears to be nonrepresentational, through it she engages in what she calls “a conversation with something that cannot be seen within myself, an imagined something inside others, or a third unknown thing.”

Kate Nartker’s film stills from personal, found, and stock footage, as well from The Library of Congress are presented in weavings and jacquards that give us a new, surprising and tantalizing aspect of pixelation. They are presented in a way that aims to dissolve the depth of an image and at the same time, encourage us to slow our perception of time. The work has a way of engaging our sense of touch so we know what we are looking at. As the work becomes more and more abstract we begin to long to find pattern and recognizable images, creating urgency in us to find meaning. But we can’t touch, so the gaze brings us a shifting between pattern recognition and the unpredictable in the weaving structures.

The contrast in modes of practice between these two artists to achieve abstraction is of great interest. Wells’ ambitious use of abstract shapes keeps us engaged and curious without providing answers. In contrast, Nartker’s use of figuration and narrative blown out to repel meaning asks us to accept feeling/touch as a means toward knowledge.

(adapted from the gallery’s press materials)


Jack Fischer Gallery
311 Potrero Avenue
San Francisco, California 94103 USA
(415) 522-1178

Tuesday-Saturday, 11AM-5:30PM
and by appointment