Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kelly Reemtsen Paintings

Kelly Reemtsen’s paintings explore the paradoxical state of being female in in post-feminist contemporary society. Her iconic image is that of a woman clothed a vintage party dress. 
Kelly Reemtsen, “Character Assassination” | Oil on Panel, 41 x 41 inches
In some paintings the woman carries a tool usually associated with masculinity. In other works the woman appears to be falling through space like Alice down the rabbit hole. Reemsten has described these figures as ‘falling out of love and/or falling short of expectations.” 

"Always Putting out Fires" 2010; Oil on panel  30" x 30"
The tools however can also be seen as symbols of feminine empowerment, and the women viewed as heroines who are ‘doing it all.’ Dressed to the nines, these super women are putting the obsessive finishing touches on the yard and the home minutes before the guests arrive, with or without the aid of a few of the candy-hued pills on the nightstand.
Aqua 2010; Oil on panel 40" x 40"
The titles affirm the dark humor of the work as one subject refers to the garden hose as ‘The load I carry.” Another says “I don’t need a key to your house” and another figure sighs “I’m not falling for you.” A falling girl is titled “Failure to Engage” and another figure bearing a wrench is simply “Divisive.”
Yellow Bubbles 2009; Oil on panel 44" x 44"  
The gestural drips and dollops in the white backgrounds however are also the hallmarks of 1950s Abstract Expressionism, whose practitioners were mostly hard drinking and hard living male painters. Just as her figures have taken the tools men traditionally use, Reemtsen has appropriated the larger-than-life macho male gesture of Action Painting.

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