For centuries traditional storytelling has used animals in place of humans. From Aesop's fables to George Orwell's Animal Farm, our furrier counterparts direct our moral compasses while exhibiting humanistic traits. Kimia Ferdowsi Kline's studio in Fort Greene was stacked with juicy marked up oil paintings of jackals, cats, horses, and fish all inspired by the ancient Persian book “Kalila and Dimna,” a collection of interrelated animal fables in verse and prose. The jackals, Kalila and Dimna, who narrate the story, sat upright and bright in the foreground of one of Kimia's canvases, illuminating the room as we spent the day working alongside one another in the breeziness of early spring.
Elaine. L. Jacob Gallery, a part of Wayne University. The large stellar painting that she worked on while I was there went from a vibrant red to black to white; the silhouettes of previous coats being saved along the way and seen riffling through her layers. A flock of birds was scattered across her dining room table, as though en route to Detroit. Kimia and I talked over the possible background colors she would use to accentuate their soar when she installed them in the gallery. The playfulness of the neon colors and varied feather patterns gave each of them their own story to tell. On one canvas a woman wearing a startlingly blue jumpsuit stretches a marmalade cat, who takes the focus of the painting, across her arms. The cat's expression fills in for the missing face of the figure and reminded me of the anthropomorphized felines in Persian mythology. I delighted in recapturing these creatures' whimsical and luscious qualities, but even more so in the spontaneity of the painter's imagination.
Wythe Hotel. Artists make fantastic curators. With 70 rooms to fill, her project takes her to a lot of studios, and like myself, she gets great joy from it. To see more of her work go here http://www.kimiakline.com/ and if you happen to be in Detroit please see her show "As Above, So Below" at Elaine. L. Jacob Gallery up until June 24th.