Galerie Eva Presenhuber presents the gallery’s sixth solo-exhibition with the Philadelphia-based artist Karen Kilimnik.
Starting in the 1990s, Karen Kilimnik has created a large oeuvre of paintings in which she deals with motifs such as romantic mysteries, nature, Baroque, Rococo, fairy tales, and ballett. Artists such as 17th and 18th century painters Henry Raeburn, George Stubbs, Hubert Robert or François Boucher are frequent subjects to her reinterpretation.
Oscillating between magic worlds, unspoiled nature and the intuition that both could be merely a facade, Kilimnik’s motifs feel familiar. And this is for good reason: Her landscapes play with references to precursors. In “The Egerton House Hotel”, for example, she refers to Giorgione’s “Landscape with sunset”. Depicting Giorgione’s composition, Kilimnik removes the figures and instead inserts furniture from “The Egerton House Hotel” in London. In doing so, she changes the landscape from one to only look at into one that seems to invite the viewer to take a seat. “The Egerton House Hotel” is one of the artist’s favourite hotels. For her it represents an ideal, comfortable and luxurious shelter.
Kilimnik’s work has been shown in historic spaces such as palaces. Doing so, she plays with a space in which the viewer would rather expect historical paintings. But Kilimnik questions the temporality of what we see just as much within her paintings: The reference – Giorgione – is known, but belongs to the 16th century, while the painting itself is contemporary. Likewise, the depicted furniture is historic and at the same time located in a contemporary hotel.
This juxtaposition of inside and outside, contemporary and history draws through Kilimnik’s landscapes. In “The Tempest Room”, it is as if one can sit inside – with all the respective comforts such as heating, calmness, and absence of insects – and still enjoy the pleasures of the nature outside. It is this juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated things that gives Kilimnik’s works their touch of humour.
Not only in “The Egerton Hotel House” but also in “The Gypsies lost in the mountain forest storm”, painted after George Hyter, Kilimnik has changed the original inhabitants. “Zermatt at night”, on the other hand, is partly reminiscent of a scene taken from the movie “Help”, in which The Beatles are skiing down the alps with torches. Like the hut in “Hiding out in the cold winter Polish countryside, the old country“, after a painting by Jacob von Ruisdael, the landscape in these paintings is so familiar that Kilimnik’s phantasy of taking shelter in nature becomes accessible for everyone.
Karen Kilimnik was born in 1955 in Philadelphia, where she lives and works. She has been represented by Eva Presenhuber since 1995. Karen Kilimnik’s work is shown in major museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York City; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City. Latest solo-exhibitions took place in museums such as Le Consortium, Dijon, France (2013/2014); the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, USA (2013); the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, USA (2008); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, USA (2007) and the Historic Museum Basel, Switzerland (2005). Latest group-exhibitions in major museums include “America Is Hard to See”, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, USA (2015); “Sacré 101 – An Exhibition Based on ‘The Rite of Spring‘”, Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2014); “NYC 1993: Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star”, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, USA.