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Karen Kilimnik

Le Consortium & le Cercle Spiridion presents a solo exhibition event of works by Karen Kilimnik at Château de Malmaison, Rueil-Malmaison.


The paintings of Karen Kilimnik question chronology and disrupt time. She thwarts any artistic scenery. Quatremere de Quincy (Essay on nature, the means and ends of imitation in the Fine Arts, 1823) pointed out that every Art has its own sense of time, which could also be said today about each artwork, achievement and perhaps about many people too.  In Karen Kilimnik's work, this essential relationship to time is particularly elusive, at once present and always fleeing. Karen Kilimnik engages the past with sophistication - "Exculta" as would have said the Romans, meaning it is erudite, weaved with plenty of reminiscences which do not refer to anything anymore, but that we insist on doing the chronology, in spite of the great display of visible references such as dwellings, landscapes, portraits, the prince and ethereal queen, aerial combat and naval warfare…

For us today, it is probably what Nietzsche used to call "The Great Style" which could care less to convince or to please, a moderation which does not require extreme acts of faith and which stands on its own. There is nothing grandiose or extraordinary in this, definitely nothing tragic about it, but to the contrary there is an economy and a restraint. It is what flows in between the recesses of art and its history -always unachieved- in relation to its infinite promise.

A high wooden palisade surrounds the ground floor of the Chateau de Malmaison. A scaffold crimps its right wing. It becomes a stage to spruce up and transform the chateau's familiar outline. Though a tourist could frown upon it, its appearance is embraced by the artist. In her studio Karen Kilimnik lifted the building's rear facade image from a historical book and enhanced it with her smooth water soluble oil colors: the result is now titled The summer house of Apollo in the French countryside outside Paris, 2016.

Karen Kilimnik engages both appropriation and bestowal with elegance. This takes place in the timing of the act and the fluidity of the touch.

Consequently yesterday's motif is now reclaimed in today's painting, at once imbued with insouciance and an unfathomed intimate depth which is hers precisely when her reverie crystallizes.

Hence the Malmaison becomes at once something other and yet remains always the same.