Upon the open polo fields hued a perfect shade of Kelly green, Peter Brant and Stephanie Seymour welcomed 1000 guests last Sunday for the opening party and preview of the new installation by Karen Kilimnik at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Connecticut. A parade of town cars delivered the guests, which included Agnes Gund, Jose Mugrabi, Jeffrey Deitch, Linda Evangelista and Leelee Sobieski to the idyllic country setting, offering a respite from Randall’s Island and the ensuing contemporary auction week. Collectors weren’t the only ones to make the trek and artists in attendance included: Julian Schnabel, Francesco Vezzoli, KAWS, David Salle and Francesco Clemente.
As the row of arrivals wound up the walkway to the stone mansion housing the exhibit, they caught sight of the monumental Urs Fischer enshrouded in smoke rising up from rows of roasting lamb. The scene was an intoxicating concoction of Gatsby and la Grande Jatte, with a white billowing tent, lounging guests upon grapefruit-colored cushions and jovial laughter spilling forth from perfectly manicured lawns.
The exhibition brought together a selection of Kilimnik’s new and historical works from the past three decades, evoking the history of painting through the construction of fantastical narratives which drew on a rich pastiche and personal flights of fancy. The intimate-scaled canvases depicting estate interiors, animals, chateaux and country cottages, portraits of mysterious women, as well as dashing suitors, and sweeping period landscapes were set alongside hand-painted wallpaper and room installations outfitted by the artist. Walking through the carefully conceived environments, viewers wandered from a voodoo den into an open hall with Napoleon’s Egyptian expeditionary tent, each space offering a uniquely constructed narrative of the past.
Entering through an Uffizi-inspired marbled arch one encountered the Fountain of Youth, a feature piece, which occupied the upstairs space. Perfectly trimmed artificial hedges encircled the bucolic garden fountain with cosmetic products of youth and beauty scattered about in tempting disarray. This work was particularly suggestive given how it mimicked the exterior setting and invoked the guests to partake in the piece, transposing the lavish reality into a painterly scene sur l’hebre.
All photos courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency