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Ruth Kligman

Jan 20, 2005-Mar 25, 2005

Press Release | Works | Texts | Biography


ZONE:Chelsea Center for the Arts is proud to announce DEMONSTHE LIGHT , new work by Ruth Kligman . Recently, Kligman's paintings have gazed back to the quiet of a time before she was born - the moment when one of the seeds of American painting's triumph began to germinate in a cultivated garden in France : Monet's explorations of vision itself, his dissection of shape, figure, ground, and color. His monumental Water Lilies laid a solid foundation for modern painting by atomizing nature and making the plane on which paint was brushed, layered, scumbled, and dragged into an experience that fast lost any narrative quality, becoming one of the sensations defining the modern world. The interlocking palimpsests of experience that Monet conjured from the water are reflected in the flecks of color and shifting shades that make up the ethereal atmosphere of Kligman's landscapes of the sky.


But Kligman's spiritual icons of the 1980's and her more recent explorations of enveloping light have alternated with those demons that first loomed up in the 1960's, drawn on onion skin with colored pencils and metallic pigments. The end of the millennium saw a resurgence of figurative expressionism across the art world; Kligman's came from a place of re-examined tragedy. Like so many of her peers during the anxious 1950's (which, as today, found New York City pegged on the bull's-eye of a war between ideologies), Kligman had been in psychoanalysis - her Monster series seems to have sprung from an unconscious that was never fully allowed to rest. Monster: Horus and Monster: Disintegration are direct channels back to the automatic drawing and primal Jungian imagery that freed up the New York School generation; Kligman's works carry on this tradition but take it to a place of her own making. In Demons, similar compositions begin with rounded, swirling layers shot through with jagged forms, then transmute into recognizably demonic visages before melting into squalls of orange, blue, and black. Kligman uses long, unbroken color-pencil outlines to define these strange entities and then energizes the overlapping skeins with metallic flashes of paint. The Horus series engages the viewer through broad areas of color that alternately suppress or yield to the writhing black, skeletal frameworks underneath; these are works of tense beauty.


The American century of art has had its share of glories and demons, and throughout, Ruth Kligman has been its abiding witness.


R.C. Baker


R.C. Baker has exhibited his artwork at the Drawing Center , the Center for Book Arts, White Columns, and other venues in and around New York City ; his writing has appeared in The New York Times , the Village Voice , the Performing Arts Journal , and other publications

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