Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Feminine Goes Pop

“My language is the language of images,
and this language I speak more fluently than German or English
Kiki Kogelnik

The Austrian born artist Kiki Kogelnik is best known for her pop art works created during the 1960s.

After studying at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts as an expressionist, Kogelnik spent a couple of years in Paris before re-locating to New York in the early 1960s. It was there she adopted the palette and the style of the pop art movement. But, unlike her contemporaries, Kogelnik avoided the celebration of commerce and instead concentrated her efforts on the possibilities of the technological advances of the age.

As she has said “I’m not involved with Coca Cola, I’m involved in the technical beauty of rockets, people flying in space and people becoming robots. When you come here from Europe it is so fascinating … like a dream of our time. The new ideas are here, the materials are here, why not use them?”

The recent revival of interest in Kogelnik’s work has concentrated on this aspect of her work with exhibitions in Europe and America. Although in the 1970s the emphasis in her work shifted its focus to what have been called her “Women works” which specifically addressed the portrayal of women in commercial advertising.

"Fashion imagery relates directly to our fantasy expectations of the world. . . expectations which are never met in real life where people are not perfectly attired, posed, cool, aloof and elegant," she once said. "However, my work has many layers of meaning and anyone who sees this merely as a reflection of fashion illustration is missing the point. I am interested in Kitsch colors, somewhat like those used in cosmetics, and, particularly in my most recent paintings. I seem to be dealing with painterly problems of figure and ground in an almost abstract way."

Lauded as Austria’s most important pop artist, Art in America’s Anne Doran wrote in 2012 “Kogelnik’s paintings and drawings, with their fusion of Pop and abstract forms, ambiguous spaces and narratives, now look very up-to-date, with affinities to the figurative work of younger artists.”

The exhibition Kiki Kogelnik: Fly Me to the Moon is currently on show at Modern Art Oxford until the 18th of October.


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