Texas Gallery presents the work of Kathleen Gilje, the New York based painter, in an exhibition titled Likeness & Beyond: Portraits. The art historian Linda Nochlin has written this about Gilje’s work: “her wickedness is bound up in the very reality of the Great Masterpieces themselves and the Great Minds who interpret them. These are fierce and often funny paintings…” (Art in America, March 2002). This statement was prompted by the nature of the work which is painting as re-interpretation, re-creation, and “re-storation” of classical icons by the likes of Rembrandt, Ingres, Velasquez, Holbein, Van Eyck and van Dyck. Trained as a conservator of old master paintings, Gilje has utilized her skill and historical knowledge to create a body of work that amazes, challenges and amuses the viewer. It is startling to see a copy of a well-known painting such as Rembrandt’s “Portrait of Agatha Bas”, full scale and perfect in its rendering. However, it is even more startling that in Gilje’s version the subject is rendered as a nude. An intervention by the artist creates a strong sensation of the familiar made completely unfamiliar. In addition new issues, both aesthetic and political, are raised immediately. Suddenly the conventions that have been taken for granted and the received historical wisdoms are questioned and a masterful copy becomes a strong and original statement, beautiful and intelligent.
In the most recent painting included in the show, the famous diptych of “Adam and Eve” by Jan van Eyck is recreated to scale with a subtle difference. The artist illustrates carnal knowledge by the falling away of the fig leaves that the figures grasp to their respective groins in the original piece - a brilliant change that is lyrical but profound. The leaves float down lightly but they represent “heavy” meaning which the artist is able to indicate through a simple “restoration”.
The exhibition is on view until February 25, 2006. A reception for the artist will be held from 6 - 8 pm, on Tues. Jan 24. The gallery is open 10 -5, Tues. - Sat. and by appointment. For further information please contact Nancy Douthey