By SHANA NYS DAMBROT, FEB. 2018
Kim Kimbro is a painter of the in-between. Stylistically, she operates along the borderlands of representation and abstraction, with a palette that straddles the real and the unnatural, and an inferential technique that threatens to dissolve her figures into the ether. She is most widely known for psychologically affecting portraits of wildlife, whose shifting consciousnesses hover on the liminal border between life and death. In “Briar Rose, or The Faerie’s Revenge” -- opening this February at Gallery 825 -- Kimbro’s newest work confronts another kind of in-between: the process of self-realization. Though they are portraits of human adolescents, in these paintings, Kimbro’s true deeper subject is the dawning of awareness and wisdom in our collective inner child. The show’s title comes from the Grimm fairytale upon which Sleeping Beauty would later be based -- an archetypal regard for budding womanhood as a time of confusion, innocence, and inscrutable magic which it is perhaps best if we all just slept through. It’s sweet, dangerous, and the young woman is at the mercy of both magic and men.
Kimbro’s signature style of ambiguous settings, interpretive colors, fleeting brushwork, and a sense of isolation among half-glimpsed mysteries all continue to animate these new works. In a sense, by celebrating the confluence of wilder instincts and the allure of safety, these portraits honor the feral spirits that abide within the world of people, too. Raw auras and eccentric colors provide telling, evocative prompts. Her deft, feathered and flurried brushwork and textured color-block gradients in their fraught, dreamlike aesthetic communicate and amplify her figures’ psychological states -- bright, stoic, anxious, rebellious, precocious, summery, lonely. What little symbolism there is that might offer clues as to narrative or a degree of identity as befits a portrait, is found in the postures/body language of the figures and the personality of their clothing. A cozy nightgown, a snowsuit, a feather boa, a fancy frock, grown-up lunettes, cut-off shorts; a wide-eyed stare, a hair flip, an impatient half-smile, a face turned away from the world, from the artist -- and from you. WM
Briar Rose, or The Faerie’s Revenge
Reception: Saturday, February 10, 6-9pm
Exhibition Dates: February 10 - March 9, 2018
Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the LA Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Art and Cake, Artillery, and Palm Springs Life.
She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and catalogs, curates and juries a few exhibitions each year, is a dedicated Instagram photographer and author of experimental short fiction, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. She is a member of ArtTable and the LA Press Club, and sits on the Boards of Art Share-LA and the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, the Advisory Council of Building Bridges Art Exchange, and the Brain Trust of Some Serious Business.
Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff
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