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Indepth Arts News:

"Karen Kilimnik: Fairy Battle"
2002-09-27 until 2003-02-02
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Dublin, , IE

The first solo exhibition in Ireland by the American artist Karen Kilimnik, best known for her richly diverse work interweaving history and fantasy, opens to the public at the Irish Museum of Modern Art on Friday 27 September 2002. The body of 26 works in Karen Kilimnik: Fairy Battle embody the extraordinary eclectic nature of the artist's work, from her early "scatter piece" installations and historical fantasy drawings to exquisite flower paintings, sculptures and photographs.

The exhibition, selected in the context of the historical setting of IMMA, addresses in a characteristically individual way both historical subjects and contemporary popular culture. It also reflects Kilimnik's varied passions. These range from Tsarist Russia, classical ballet and the Gothic aesthetic, to today's celebrity culture built around pop stars and glamour magazines, and, more recently, the world of fairies and fairy tales. In fact, Kilimnik's work is crammed full of fairytale references, including dashing barons, tinkling chandeliers, wolves and sleighs, creating a magical world in which history, myth and reality coexist.

Other works are sourced from glossy magazines, soap operas and television shows, reflecting Kilimnik's preoccupation with icons of popular culture such as Sharon Tate, Leonardo di Caprio, Kate Moss and Elizabeth Taylor. Placing these characters within her own work Kilimnik again, creates her own reality, where past and present, fact and fiction dissolve to offer us a reinterpretation of our cultural history.

Often naïve and innocent on the surface, on closer inspection Kilimnik's works often reveal a darker side as in Redlands, Keith Richard's House, Day of the Drug Arrest, 1966.  In a publication accompanying the exhibition, writer and critic Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith describes how Kilimnik's work has always shown how "the capacity to tap into deep-seated human fears and fantasies is not exclusive to so-called high culture... Behind her deceptively light touch, disarming awkwardness and unabashed enthusiasms, lies a willingness to accommodate a more generous range of imaginative possibilities than that countenanced by much of contemporary western culture."

Born in Philadelphia, Karen Kilimnik has exhibited internationally since the early 1990s and has had solo exhibitions at the South London Gallery, the Bonner Kunstverein, Germany, and the 303 Gallery, New York.

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