Shylock

Shylock, 2012, Kim Westfall
Shylock, 2012, Kim Westfall (detail)

About the Work

Kim Westfall’s oeuvre holds multitudes. Best viewed in series, her notebook-size gouache and acrylic paintings compose a self-contained universe with its own landscapes, characters, and rules. Westfall’s protagonists are pathos-filled blobs with misshapen holes for faces, their eyes, mouth, and ears combined into a single expressive aperture. These sad sacks progress through surreal scenes that combine the visual clarity and narrative detail of ukiyo-e woodblock prints with the nightmare iconography of an inescapable fever dream.

In her intensely strange, hermetic world, doors open up onto the same spaces they close on, paint trails traverse planes that don’t quite line up, and a mountain looms in the distance while something burning wafts a trail of curling smoke in the foreground. It’s an airless place we can visit but would never survive in, as hospitable for human beings as a two-dimensional Saturday morning cartoon. The hyper-literate quality of Westfall’s work wouldn’t be possible without her own restless, esoteric curiosity, a drive to stimulation that chews through 19th-century novels, avant-garde music, and new-wave cinema with equal ferocity.

 

Additional Information

Dimensions 8 × 10 in