Katherine Love + Kirsten Rae Simonsen at ARS Café

The Curious Garden: New Work by Katherine Love and Kirsten Rae Simonsen

The Curious Garden features new paintings and works on paper by MFA alum KATHERINE LOVE and Lecturer KIRSTEN RAE SIMONSEN

reception on Thursday, November 1, 6 – 9pm at ARS Café, Honolulu, and runs through November 28, 2018.

Honolulu-based artists Katherine Love and Kirsten Rae Simonsen have exhibited together previously and their works evidence commonalities in both subject matter and content. Love examines imagery and ideas that critique commonly held assumptions related to feminine identity, domestic life, and societal expectations, while Simonsen explores narratives of return, longing, and the search for home through the lens of the pastoral and the spectacle. Both artists create works that strike a balance between the sensuous and the romantic, and the mysterious and the ominous.

Katherine Love’s current series of work titled Intimate Offerings incorporates vintage prints, and calling and trade cards from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawn, painted, and collaged elements include fanciful cakes, flowers, dolls, birds, and hairstyles. Altered and dislocated images evoke nostalgia and romantic innocence, as well as psychological discomfort, anxiety, and unease. Peaceful skies and landscapes act as counterpoints to intimate spaces of the home; while an underlying tension between the familiar and the foreign echoes a search for balance among women’s shifting roles in contemporary society. Love’s art historical influences include Surrealism and 19th century British Romantic landscape and portraiture painting.

Kirsten Rae Simonsen’s newest collection of works, The Cosmic Bestiary, reflects a love of the space created by fairy tales: where animals talk and magic or evil lurks around the corner. It walks the line between beauty and disorder, fairy tale and reality, the mysterious and the ominous. Most of the animals in the series are drawn from the artists’ own collection of photographs of Victorian and early 20th century taxidermy from places such as the Field Museum in Chicago, with its placid animal scenes that mirror cozy nuclear families, and the Victorian-era Booth Museum of Natural History in Brighton, UK, with its brutal, unforgiving scenes of death and destruction. The fluorescent pastels dusted with mica create an otherworldly atmosphere. The colors convey a hyperreality, a garden of ecstatic surfaces.