Thursday, December 06, 2007

Karen Kilimnik

I’m not a big fan of modern art. I don’t really like pretension or cynicism or the dehumanization that happens when reasonably smart people try to take what they think of as a “realistic” look at the world and see only troubles and sadness and grief, and then try to share their “vision” through art constructs. I admire the phenomenal skills and deep erudition of many modern artists but I simply can’t stand their ‘sense of life.’

Every now and then, however, someone in that milieu [I’m not happy using that word, but it seems to fit] manages to retain a sense of playfulness and fun along with their sensitivity and refinement and skills.

And then things are about as good as they can get. It makes putting up with all the other stuff worthwhile.

Karen Kilimnik seems to be such a person.

The current issue (12/07) of “Art In America” [I mentioned this magazine in, Fast Art, but see also, Art And Magazines] has a cover story about Kilimnik, “An Artist and Her Alter Egos."

Kilimnik does all the kinds of modern art stuff that usually make me roll my eyes. She creates ‘assemblages.’ She creates mixed-media ‘installations.’ She creates video ‘experiences.’

An unfriendly art critic once described one of her installations as appearing like, “... a bedroom sanctuary of an overwrought teenager.”

But Kilimnik does serious pieces and amusing pieces, and even her serious pieces typically have an element of energy and fun to them.

She did an installation ‘about’ schoolyard shootings and along with the graphics she created, the piece featured a boom-box constantly playing the Boomtown Rat’s hit about a school shooting, “I Don’t Like Mondays.” It was a pretty cool song, and it’s very cool seeing someone keeping the song alive in such a dynamic way.

Along with the silly-ass modern forms like assemblages and installations and such, Kilimnik also creates paintings. And even her paintings are rich with juxtapositions of seriousness and humor. She might put seemingly classical images next to her renditions of still images from the “Avengers” TV show. Very cool. She might create ‘self-portraits’ with her ‘self’ in an idiosyncratic scene replaced by some pop icon. Very cool, too.

I would have put up with a whole year of going to pointless, dull, boring and depressing art shows just to see, for instance, Kilimnik’s painting, “Me—I forgot the wire cutters—getting the wire cutters from the car to break into stonehenge.”

Stuff like this gets me excited. It makes my hands shake. Not because I’m nervous. But because I’m happy.

That happens every now and then.

Here’s a pic taken from the current (12/07) issue of “Art In America” of Kilimnik (as Kate Moss!) in her painting, “Me—I forgot the wire cutters—getting the wire cutters from the car to break into stonehenge:”

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