Documenting history through line, Glasheen’s latest expertly-wrought ink on paper drawings express historical realities and their all-too-relevant association to our present-day political climate.
Delicately rendered in exquisite detail, Glasheen’s new series represents a departure from the artist’s previous more conceptually abstracted works. Employing an historically literate approach, Glasheen critically depicts the opulence and excesses of the past. For Glasheen, there is a narrative through line connecting the rulers of the past with the contemporary leaders of today.
Drawing with virtuoso skill, her finely hatched, original portrayals of the kings and monarchs of past civilizations serve as stark reminders of the potential dangers of a dictatorial state. Historical tyrants with absolute power often exercised it in a cruel or oppressive way. Through the centuries, autocratic powers have proven to be unsustainable over time. Centralized, dictatorial systems of government requiring complete subservience to the state eventually fall.
From Glasheen’s vantage, the cycle of repression continues today, as one despot is deposed by another. Her historical figures are represented as human skeletons, elaborately dressed, ostentatious characters decorated in showy, complex patterns. For all of their extravagance, Glasheen’s kings have been reduced to mere bone and cartilage, the remaining parts of something after its life or usefulness is gone. Once-revered, all-powerful sovereigns–their features humorously exaggerated–are effectively satirized, lampooned to caricatures.
Proffering a vision of a world run by venality–one we can identify with today–Glasheen’s skillfully composed, intricate line drawings remind viewers of the connective tissue between historical civilizations and our modern political times, the rulers of the past and the ‘kings’ of today.
Kate Glasheen: Dead Kings
Exhibition Dates: January 25 – March 16, 2019
Opening Reception: January 25, 2019 • 5:30 – 10:00pm
746 S 4th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147