GREENWICH, CT.- A new exhibition offers an overview of Kathleen Gilje's satirically pointed and technically adroit reincarnations of famous Old Master and nineteenth-century paintings. Through these works she comments on social, political and art historical issues of our day, and often recasts and reincarnates leading lights of the world of art scholarship, criticism and collecting.
A trained restorer, who began her career working on the great national collections at the Capodimonte Museum in Naples, Gilje brings a sophisticated understanding of the techniques and materials of the older art that she reconfigures, be it a "restored" version of a van Eyck, Raphael, Gentileschi, Manet or Sargent. She often comments on contemporary fashions and manners by inserting anachronistic details into images from the distant past. Here, too, are juxtapositions of contemporary and older art, always with a topical thrust, and satirical send ups of iconic images.
We recognize individuals, including artists like Louise Bourgeois and Jean-Michel Basquiat in the guise of portraits by Dürer and Velázquez, or the art historians Robert Rosenblum and Linda Nochlin as an Ingres and a Manet, or the New York Times art critic, Michael Kimmelman, as Eakins's The Thinker, all selectively portrayed with painterly aplomb. Even local residents appear among this pantheon, including the collector and President of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Jennifer Stockman, who is reincarnated as a Gustav Klimt figure.
Giljes work offers commentaries on current political, economic and women's rights issues, but sometimes in such subtle forms that the images can only be detected with X-rays. The effect in the aggregate is to render the art of the past at once more whimsically accessible and pertinent to modern lives.
The exhibition is accompanied by a generously illustrated catalogue, including an interview with the artist. A lecture series will also complement the show.