Karsten Schubert London exhibits at EXPO Chicago 2022 with a solo presentation of Northern Irish artist Kirsten Glass. To Glass, art is potentially a manifestation of a spiritual, magical process, whether or not artists realise it themselves. This marks the first time this important body of Glass's work will be exhibited.
Kirsten Glass's paintings grow and develop in a method she likens to a 'slow-motion collage without a plan': stock silhouettes of women and their animal familiars are added, reworked and hidden. Each of Glass's monumental canvases is divided into distinct sections, visually emphasising the interruption of straightforward narrative with dreamlike logic. The rich black grounding colouring she favours, as seen in Kittens (2017), serves to hold an assembly of seemingly mismatched components in place within a dream world of creatures, esoteric symbols, sigils, sewn marks, everyday objects and abstract shapes.
Incised flowing lines and shapes, including the flowers of life pattern from sacred geometry, are scratched into the surfaces of her canvases, revealing under-layers of paint. The visual and textural differences in each work are harmonious, each painting having its own sensual logic and unexpected sense of presence. This aesthetic harmony is evident in her smaller scale works, head-sized canvases infused with the boundless energy of a liminal landscape.
Daffodil (2011) is the earliest work Karsten Schubert London will exhibit at EXPO Chicago, and marks an important step in Glass's career, which began during her MA at Goldsmiths, London in the late 1990s. She was part of a group of artists participating in high-profile exhibitions across London and the US where her large, collage-based group portraits of beautiful girls, plucked from magazines, on lustrous black backgrounds with graphic bands of text were acquired by influential collectors including Charles Saatchi. Exhibited at Antony D'offay (London, 2001) and the Barbican Art Gallery (London, 2002), this early, youthful work saw Glass borrowing content from throwaway sources as readily as she would from art history, mixing high, low and alternative culture into an exciting, seductive cohesion.
Daffodil, like these earlier works, is an expansive painting centred on the collaged face of a model cut out from a magazine, but here Glass's geometrical underlying structure and expressive fields of swirling paint more confidently express a ritualistic, esoteric world. She invites the viewer to step into a ritual, reconnecting with folklore, animism and magic that defines her recent work.