Christmas Service for the Forest Pets
In "Christmas Service for the Forest Pets," Karen Kilimnik sets forth an immersive installation of paintings, sculptures, and photographs made between 1999 and 2020 that transforms South Etna Montauk into an idyllic winter wonderland.
The show is a survey of the artist's three-decade-long career, curated with an eye to her seasonal work. From the exhibition's titular work, which features deer gathered around evergreens and a cross in the snow, to pieces like Pink Panther out for a morning walk in Gstaad (2001) [pictured], Kilimnik transports viewers to distant or imagined wintery locales, fairytale subjects cropping up alongside flora and fauna. Drawing upon an iconography of mass culture kitsch as well as Romanticism and theater, Kilimnik produces imaginative and nostalgic works whose artificial and fantastical elements seem even more at home in South Etna Montauk's faux-Tudor cottage-style gallery.
Evocative of the Old World scenes that populate Kilimnik's work, the gallery becomes a festive stage set replete with frosted glass windows, holiday lights, fake snow, and a Christmas tree made all the more dazzling for its fabrication. This intentional artificiality is part of what makes Kilimnik's work so appealing. As curator Alison M. Gingeras describes, "'Christmas Service for the Forest Pets' will be something akin to a walk-in snow globe. Once under the glass dome, it doesn't matter that what's inside is fake. We are still beguiled by the same genuine sense of magic and reverie that we get from shaking the globe."
Karen Kilimnik, Pink Panther Going For His Morning Walk in Gstaad, 2001. Water soluble oil color on canvas, 20 x 16 inchies. Courtesy of the artist, 303 Gallery, New York, and South Etna Montauk.