Water Tight


Nathlie Provosty at Nathalie Karg Gallery

Tarashikomi is a Japanese ink drawing technique which embraces the unpredictability of ink’s spread across fibrous paper. It allows for chance to become a co-author of art making, diffusing the mark and with it the artist’s own agency. 


What then, when an artist finds a way to control a notoriously uncontrollable element? This is the overarching achievement of Nathlie Provosty’s works on paper, which hang at Nathalie Karg Gallery on Grand Street until August 9.

Here colors do not bleed into each other, despite the overlay. Instead the layers appear distinct.

Here colors do not bleed into each other, despite the overlay. Instead the layers appear distinct.


Despite the fact that many of the works do not stray from the medium of watercolor, this show is wide-ranging and multi-form (included are a large-scale ink drawing, multi-part series, diptychs, and even artist books). Throughout the artist has managed to corral a notoriously finicky substance into doing what she wants of it. At once diffuse and precise, these works are seepingly satisfying.


While some pieces take as their subject a Reinhardtian subtlety which abuts like colors, others manage their distinct parts through layers––a vertical as opposed to horizontal separation. As her medium is watercolor, this gives the effect of suspension, as if water has begun to act as a solid.

Though Provosty manages to manipulate a material as if it were fundamentally different than it is, distinct markers of the medium’s character remain. (I believe in the economy of material: Make not with one material what can be more easily done with another.) There are many places in Provosty’s work where bleeding and pooling occur, sometimes in close proximity to hard edges. That the two coexist can sometimes feel like magic, a fantasy world in which chance encounters can be contained for us to examine, and––if we’re lucky––understand.

Nathlie Provosty: Water Thief

Nathalie Karg Gallery

Until August 9th

Hall Rockefeller