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Indepth Arts News:

"During Unreal: Sandow Birk, Kathleen Gilje, Kim Keever"
2002-08-23 until 2002-10-12
Contemporary Art Museum
St. Louis, MO, USA

With this exhibition, it will look as if the Contemporarys walls are hung with old master paintings of fleshy nudes and glorious landscapes, said Mel Watkin, curator, the Contemporary. To fully understand these paintings and identify their illusion, your eyes will require a second or third look. California artist Sandow Birk and New York artists Kathleen Gilje and Kim Keever explore the phenomenon of illusion in their paintings, but all use it in very different ways.

Sandow Birk uses the skills of old master painters to convey the wonder and beauty of Californias unpopulated landscapes. His paintings bring to mind the work of Thomas Moran and Albert Bierdstadt, but unlike their subject matter, Birk‚s landscapes include the architectural structures and fencing of the California prison system.

Kathleen Gilje is a professional conservator of old master works and has restored paintings by such renowned artists as Tintoretto and El Greco. In her own recent work, she repaints iconic images such as Artemisia Gentileschis Susanna and the Elders (1610) and shows them along side fictional x-rays that reveal a slightly different story than the one we might expect. Art conservators x-ray paintings in order to see how they were created. This enables them to more accurately repair a damaged work. Most old master paintings consist of many layers of sketching, under-painting, over-painting and glazing. Quite often an x-ray of a painting also will reveal different compositions that the artist was experimenting with before settling on the final version. Gilje uses this technique to play with her paintings.

Kim Keevers large-scale photographs look like very carefully painted scenes of worldly grandeur and desolation. Like Frederick Churchs images, they give the illusion of being flawless paintings of natures power and majesty.

IMAGE:
Sandow Birk
The T.P.F. in Sheridan Square (Stonewall 1969), 1998
Oil and acrylic on canvas,
43 x 54


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