Leelee Kimmel
9055 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069, USA
Wednesday, February 28 at 5:00 PM 7:00 PM
Ends May 25, 2024
The Journal Gallery is pleased to present the Los Angeles solo debut of New York based painter, Leelee Kimmel. "It's a strange business, speaking for yourself, in your own name, because it doesn't at all come with seeing yourself as an ego or a person or a subject. Individuals find a real name for themselves, rather, only through the harshest exercise in depersonalization, by opening themselves up to the multiplicities everywhere within them, to the intensities running through them." — Gilles Deleuze Abstraction demands trust. Historical reverence, texture, perception, movement, and the integrity of the medium–these supports, which transport us into the space of painting, insist on belief, but contemporary painting refuses certainty–this instability is at the heart of the project. Deprivation, threat, the collapse of meaning and narrative is as essential for the creation of visual discourse as the rubble of history and the surfaces that constitute the art itself. These negative values open the space of absence. Traditional painting–representational, pictorial–invests in the picture plane symbolically. In its tenuous balance between the condensation of pure material and the possibility of mis-recognition, abstraction mounts its assault on the picture plane. The astute or patient viewer tunes in to an experience that is no longer simply perceptual but visceral, a kind of queasiness. This experience reappears in different guises throughout the field or culture or terrain that “contemporary art” adumbrates or itemizes, as inexplicable elisions, erasures, and blanks that derange perception. Abstraction may often seem like the mode of frustration. There’s the “pure” modality suggested by Malevich and Mondrian. This intensity of reduction and refusal of reference continues but it’s as the oppressed or repressed party within the abstractionist block. The biomorphic party, the party of Surrealism, is the party of power, of influence, counterintuitive as that sounds: the revolution of guts and puke and the unconscious and obscenity marches on and on, unperturbed even as it is predicated on perturbation. Leelee Kimmel’s abstract paintings belong to this general, diffuse, yet unmistakable tendency. They articulate in the present concerns that are old within the history and pre-history of Modernism. Old rebellions find new voices. Kimmel remains mindful of the framing edge in these paintings. Indeed, a certain parodistic “busywork” congeals at the perimeter. The northeast corner of En Passant looks like a pattern of crosshatching, or maybe a fragment of chair caning, illusionist faux-caning as in the famous Picasso still life. Within this elaboration of the picture frame blobs and lighting bolts cross swords, after a fashion. Rectilinear patterns, the patterns of the hypostasized grid, warp and flail–as topographical “bodies” under duress, non-Euclidean geometries, and degraded fragments of household architecture (wire mesh screens). The terrain is so treacherous, scary, bumbling and bursting, at once primordial and futuristic. Paintings like topographical maps but also interior maps, like demented interiors for fantastical bodies. Organs, looping veins and arteries, transit hubs of circulation, the circulation of energies, intensities, flows, and then blockages. Maps of cities–streets, intersections, squares, dead ends, the underground. Multidimensional. Multi-vectored. And “opening themselves up to the multiplicities everywhere within them, to the intensities running through them.” Kimmel’s new paintings with their fields of tightly etched mark-making are not so much a refusal of the language of abstraction but a warping of it. As one quadrant of canvas billows out, another sucks inward, the whole furling and unfurling, the mad pennant signaling desire, need, revulsion, and refusal–a kind of psycho-life cycle. She expands on abstraction’s misbehavior. David Rimanelli
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