Karen Kilimnik’s latest exhibition at Sprüth Magers in London brings together works from across four decades in the American figurative artist’s career. Her oeuvre encompasses painting, sculpture and installation. This rich show doesn’t disappoint.
This exhibition, which closes tomorrow afternoon, demonstrates Kilimnik’s darkly humorous side. Her work juxtaposes motifs from art history and collective memory – ballerinas, aristocracy, the Second World War – with cultural references taken from music, film and visual arts.
Paintings of fighter planes and studies of military horses are treated with a lightness of colour and ease of brushstroke that often transforms subject matters into lighter décor. An early series of maps is shown alongside a new, much larger series that at first glance resemble abstract paintings. Kilimnik’s works are often saturated with these double meanings – innocence and cynicism, fantasy and reality, the everyday and infamy.
The exhibition also includes a selection of large-scale new photographs display figurines of eighteenth century mounted soldiers. These works reveal Kilimnik’s fascination with cultural history, which is explored further in the gallery upstairs. Copies of the work of earlier artists abound, such as Scottish artist Sir Henry Raeburn, as well as French Rococo painter Jean Baptiste Oudry.