Kate Klingbeil: Painting the Recovery of the Feminine by Sam Abelow

Kate Klingbeil shows recent works at Monya Rowe Gallery, as well as at a studio visit:

The dream contained in Klingbeil’s diary of the unconscious carries out a circumambulation around the revitalizing mother archetype — as great goddess. This image is the way to the feminine self — a mystery we hurt to have forgotten and is all that we don’t understand.

Detail, photographed at Kate Klingbeil studio.

Detail, photographed at Kate Klingbeil studio.

I first saw Kate Klingbeil’s work, as it jutted and sloshed off canvas edge, at the standout SEED show, (presented by Kasmin Gallery) in 2018. Klingbeil’s total body of work (as with that group show) represents the most important inquiry that can happen in art cultural production today: the exaltation of the feminine, as nuanced archetypal image, and as a set of values. The recent works shown at Monya Rowe Gallery display a unique combination of artistic skill — style, paint handling — and the willingness to open the deep psyche through imaginative work.

Kate Klingbeil, “Fistful of Sand,” 2019, photographed, as installed at Monya Rowe Gallery. 48 x 40 x 3 inches (approx.). Acrylic, vinyl, oil stick, chalk pastel, watercolor, metal chain, epoxy, black sand, pigment and pumice.

Kate Klingbeil, “Fistful of Sand,” 2019, photographed, as installed at Monya Rowe Gallery. 48 x 40 x 3 inches (approx.). Acrylic, vinyl, oil stick, chalk pastel, watercolor, metal chain, epoxy, black sand, pigment and pumice.

See works by Klingbeil: On the Inside, Monya Rowe Gallery, 224 West 30th St. Through July 19, 2019.

Follow @k8klingbeil on Instagram

i.

Inside the studio of Kate Klingbeil.

Inside the studio of Kate Klingbeil.

A cursive description of what is meant by the archetypal feminine, or mother must point to the unconscious situation in all people, as to where the powerful influence of the personal mother is merely an overlay on the deeply primordial — and thus biological experience —of our entire species: the mother is progenitor, nurturer and taker of life. The influence of this “mother” is so vast, that what can be psychologically described as “feminine” is synonymous in the unconscious with the values of earth as natural environment, connection to body, relationship and community, as well as mysteries of religion and mysticism.

The development of patriarchal civilization has depended on and continued to instill an ignorance of this “feminine.” This cultural influence on the psyche of individuals throughout our society accounts for many of the widespread conflicts faced today: the value of nature versus commerce, living versus working, inclusivity versus individualism, the desires of the body to live its natural life versus the constructs and poisonous habits we maintain, and, finally, the wild, perverse, vital and unrestrained creativity that lays dormant, even resented in a psyche that favors a “scientific,” “rational” and “practical” world view.

“An archetype is [...] among the highest values of the human psyche; they have peopled the heavens of all races from time immemorial. To discard them as valueless would be a distinct loss. Our task is not, therefore, to deny the archetype, but to dissolve the projections, in order to restore their contents to the individual who has involuntarily lost them by projecting them outside himself.”

C.G. Jung, par. 160, Vol. 9 Collected Works

Attention to this psychological situation has great import in modern political and cultural movements, because individuals in the present society face a great woundedness and loss in the values connected to a realized feminine. The pain of this cultural disregard, has personalistic consequences which are “passed down” through our mothers, inflicted on our sisters, but also function as an internal suffering of the soul and body, which, whether resulting in obvious neurosis, or not, is present in all of us to some degree or another.

A general suffering of the populace, in which mystery is gone, “rationality” prevails, “individuals” stand for themselves and must compete for their lot, all become political and cultural problems. A description of “general disfunction” is mere speculation, which becomes observable fact in the individual personalities and their behavior patterns. It is through the activity of daily life that our collective future is determined; it is in the sum of our collective attitudes and behaviors that the regeneration, restoration, reclamation of the feminine may occur.

A rather large and powerful canvas, photographed in Kate Klingbeil’s studio.

A rather large and powerful canvas, photographed in Kate Klingbeil’s studio.

ii.

Kate Klingbeil portrays her personal process of feminine recovery. Klingbeil’s vocation as an artist places the products of her imaginative unconscious in the public domain, as material for our communal conversation. Additionally, her abilities with paint and personal style offer another layer of enjoyability.

Klingbeil’s paintings, since her archive has begun, and into the most recent exhibition at Monya Rowe Gallery render wonderful landscapes of rolling bosoms and pagan figurines, which freely move in their nakedness. There are showers, waterfalls, beds of flowers, sometimes animals, fairies, daemons, and so forth. Always painted with intoxicated frivolity, she has consistently found emotionally rich and imaginative nuances of this same theme.

The dream contained in this diary of the unconscious carries out a circumambulation around the mother archetype. Attention to this process, and the imagery springing from it, is the way to realization of the feminine self — a vitally free personality.

In Kingbeil's archive we find what a Jungian sees as the natural manifestations of the unconscious psyche when it is given imaginative attention. Across her works, we can observe the nuanced patterns (clusters of motifs), as well as the overall narrative progression (the story that psyche is telling). 

The initial work began with many depictions of heterosexual intercourse, as well as narcissistic images of masturbation and bathing in flower beds. In the psychology of personality transformation, we know that narcissism is always the first stage, as an entry point to the mystery.

The following year, images of washing appeared, as well as the introduction of variously scaled figures, which populate a scene in which nature is presented as an abstracted fountain that offers an unending, godly elixir — a source of healing vitalization. 

iii.

The original narcissism —necessary to begin the descent further into the feminine self —leads into a new theme, almost a new world. Here, the eternal party, celebration still takes place, but now there is one oversized, giant-scaled figure, a mother goddess that is central, while other figures surround her in the vitalization.

These most recent paintings, of which I saw in her studio, have emphasized the woman as landscape, which rolls with the earthy flesh of the mother; her breasts and tummy folding over the hills, sometimes flowing with life-giving water.

Increasingly, references to animals and vegetation also become core symbols. Again, the images, which contain symbolic potencies, slurry around the mother, as the artist follows her psyche deeper into the imaginative play which portrays ancient mysteries of the feminine.

iv.

The art represents the continued and labored search for a whole self, a healed self, in which sexuality and body are the core wounds as well as source of movement, libido, that the artist is able to communicate and connect with.

I fear that many individuals will be required to dialogue with such mysteries, in whatever ways they can — intellectually, imaginatively, through group and play therapy, and probably psychedelic therapy for that matter. I can also see social play and experimentation as a pathway to opening the wounded feminine into increasing feltness and fullness. It will be in those times that we truly know what it means to understand the feminine, and for there to be a moment in time which renders a world of inclusion, love and true health.

Gerhard Richter, David Wiseman, The Hudson Yards: The Cultural Realization of The Aesthetic Life by Sam Abelow

New York City: Within a few square miles in Chelsea and the new construction in the Hudson Yards, a strange renaissance of contemporary culture and art is flourishing. Amongst all of this, it is hard to tell whether or not the hyper-real and superficial aspects of this renaissance are so excessive that we are doomed, or that, redeemingly, it is rather that these are flaws and areas of gray in a bizarre cultural evolution. However, there is undoubtedly the sensation of a moment in culture that is of great importance. 

Read More

The Black Model at the Crux of Western Culture: Sweeping Exhibition at Musée d’Orsay by Sam Abelow

The “Black Models” show at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris reveals the Western neglect of the archetypal feminine, which accounts for racial and gender subjugation and ultimately a disregard for the planet itself. In this view of the show, we poignantly discover a cultural progression, but also a dire need for further understanding today.

Read More

From Paris: Musée d’Orsay (Van Gogh, Gauguin and European Schizoid Art) by Sam Abelow

The Symbolist painters, circa 1888 - 1920, were a definitive break from the state-sanctioned academy painting of French establishment. It can be useful to understand the artistic desire which promoted such developments as a progression of aesthetics, as well as a push towards new moral and social ideas. Not only today’s artists, but the progressiveness of our present culture, at least in part, reaches back to their pursuits.

Read More

From Paris: l'Orangerie & The Louvre by Sam Abelow

Artists’ are driven by an immortality fantasy. Also, they are poetic types who feel the contents of life-psyche deeply. They need a subject, many of the Europeans chose “woman,” for she is at the center of their psyche; her unending pull both profound fodder for inspiration, sparking their instincts, stimulating the artist towards production.

Also, this obsession with the woman is a form of masochistic self-torture to tease themselves unending, turning an interest into a fascination, and finally into an addiction. (As one painting will not do, and one lover neither; all the complications of this muse relationship come with it!) On the contrary, it has been a form of liberation (hence, the “libertine”) to feel their erotic nature.

Read More

Juicy Color Hits In Marc Horowitz’s High-Flying Act by Sam Abelow

Marc Horowitz’s newest paintings are all variations on the same composition: stark backgrounds resonate like a crisp sky, as chunky stick figures pulse like balloons. As in Rothko’s chapel, or Rembrandt's self-portraits, Horowitz repeats and alters the same idea in a series. And, as Rothko reduced his palette to shades of black, focusing on rectangular forms, and Rembrandt to shades of brown, focusing on the self-portrait, Horowitz’s latest interest can be compared to these exalted masters: his works, as packed with juicy color as ever before, have discarded earlier structures and devices (inkjet prints which allowed for complex puns on rendered horses, landscapes, etc.) in favor of an undeniably primal composition.

Read More

NYC Art Roundup: Contemporary Figuration at Its Finest by Sam Abelow

Dana Schutz’s acclaimed show “Imagine me and You” exalts figurative painting ever-again, with a power and humor especially her own. The epic canvases are slogged and dashed with heavy amounts of paint, the safflower oil of which she uses as medium giving off a tangible odor. The onslaught of these powerful sights and smells, are a sort of pleasure especially modern in their strangeness.

Read More

Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim After Dark: Mystical Endeavors in Art by Sam Abelow

From October 2018 through April 2019 the Guggenheim Museum in New York City is exhibiting the monumental works of artist and mystic Hilma af Klint. The solo exhibition, “Paintings from the Future,” has on display astoundingly mystical, large format paintings, as well as exquisite works on paper. One notable gallery room —  which has become a must-Instagram for those in the art world — includes a dozen epic works that scale ten feet high.

Read More

The Lover Archetype in Modern Men: Soundcloud Rappers, XXXTentacion as Dionysus by Sam Abelow

Both Orpheus and Dionysus are archetypes commonly active in the personalities of contemporary artists. An artist with an undeveloped “Orphic” disposition will tend more towards a longing, romanticization and dramatization —  a poetic, almost mystical love. The artist tinged more with an immature “Dionysian” typology will be affected by extreme emotionality and even reckless, violent behavior. These typical scenarios are caused by living out a collective pattern — an archetype — which has an impersonal disregard the individual wellbeing.

Read More

Spencer Sweeney's Liberated Masterworks at Gagosian by Sam Abelow

This December the Gagosian gallery, located on Park Ave. and 75th Street in New York City, presented about a half dozen of Spencer Sweeney’s latest works. The figurative painter, who is also a DJ and club owner, has been a legend of the Downtown scene for two decades. Sweeney’s latest works exemplify his approach to life and art, now as ever before, as free, spontaneous and full of vibrant energy.  

Read More

The Lover Archetype in Modern Men: Dan Bilzerian, The Ultimate Playboy as Addicted Lover by Sam Abelow

Dan Bilzerian is a mega Instagram celebrity. He is known for a lavish life. Especially, audiences are drawn to his consistent presentation of voluptuous women, whom he flaunts, as a modern American playboy. His internet persona has made him famous, even infamous, for wild adventurousness, endless sexual exploits, large parties, as well as a macho-interests such as guns and weight-lifting. Many men admire him; they admit that, if they could, they would indulge  themselves — have sex with many enticing women without commitment, travel and adventure without restriction. Other men condemn him, labeling him superficial, or fake. They research and expose the fantastic tale of his success as false. The extreme wealth, detractors say, wasn’t achieved by high-stakes poker gambling alone; it was acquired through his financial criminal father. Either way, in open admiration or envious attacks, many men are mesmerized by his lifestyle. In many of his viewers, there is a part, either conscious or unconscious, that wishes they had what Bilzerian has. This is evident in looking through the comments on his Instagram, which boasts a massive 25 million followers.

Read More

The Persephone Series of Paintings by Sam Abelow

n the original Greek myth, Persephone begins as the maiden of eternal springtime, the youthful and naive “mother’s daughter.” Then she is abducted, taken to the underworld by Hades. There, Persephone wallows, and her mother, Demeter longs after her. Demeter demands her daughter back, and Hades agrees, but slyly offers Persephone a seed of the pomegranate first.

Read More

Vividly Painting the Inner World: Review of Haley Josephs by Sam Abelow

On a hot and humid, early September evening in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Haley Josephs displayed eight unusual paintings at the Gallery 315. The bubbly artist, dressed in a long, blue silk kimono and matching clogs, welcomed attendees.

As I took in the “Finger in the Hive” show, it became increasingly apparent that the artist had painted herself in various guises. The impressive oil paintings featured a diverse set of female characters, many of which were adolescent or children, often set amongst a cinematic sunset, the colors bursting with an internal fire.

Read More

The Nude Body in Art: Sexuality, The Archetypal Feminine and Transformational Examination by Sam Abelow

Through examination and consciousness wounds and lacks of the individual and collective psyche can be healed. If in the process we painfully shed undeveloped attitudes and opinions, we will be the better for it. Additionally, any inauthentic artistic expression will be left behind, and the deepest expressions valued for their transformative power and edifying effects.

Read More

SEED Exhibition: Feminine Psyche and Mysticism in Art by Sam Abelow

It has been very joyous for me to discover a community of artists and enthusiasts exploring the matters of the psyche through art. SEED, a group show curated by Yvonne Force Villareal, focuses on themes of the feminine as mystery and the importance of the mystical mind. It does so with expressive excellence, in the form of paintings, sculptures and mixed media works.

Read More

Demoiselles d’Instagram: Exploration of the Feminine in Society and Art by Sam Abelow

The “D’Madsoille de Instagram” series, presented by Tibor de Nagy, offers an opportunity to delve into these matters and contemplate what it means to consume and therefore support the production of objectifying, sexualized images today.

Whether it has been men’s reductive treatment of women, the courtesans of history, or Instagram models using their sexualized bodies as a basis for a career, an inner relationship to the archetypal feminine that is limited and ruled by libido is at the core.

Read More