Four Diverse Talents
Showcased at Montserrat Gallery
York, Spring/Summer 2000
" GALLERY & STUDIO"
THE WORLD OF THE WORKING ARTIST
by Andrew Margolis
year's Bob Thompson retrospective at the Whitney Museum indicated, the
postmodern climate is particularly hospitable to artists who reinvigorate
classical themes. This bodes well for the work of Maryleen Schiltkamp,
an artist from the Netherlands who is already quite well known in her
own country. In her recent exhibition at the Montserrat Gallery, 584 Broadway,
Schiltkamp demonstrated why, revealing a commitment to reviving the multifigure
classical composition that was impressive indeed.
of style, one could compare Schiltkamp to painters such as Eric Fischl,
for she employs traditional realism with a unique personal twist. Schiltkamp,
however, has a less sleazoid, more mystical approach to the subject matter.
Indeed, she invariably chooses mythic subjects, which she then proceeds
to infuse with contemporary immediacy through her energetic paint handling
and subtly heightened sense of color. Her way of unifying figural and
landscape elements is also markedly modern, for she treats the entire
composition as a unified whole in the manner of an abstract painter, employing
a uniquely restrained mode of expressionism to knit the various elements
way in which Schiltkamp makes her paintings resonate as simultaneously
classical and contemporary is by giving her figures an intriguing combination
of ideal and non-ideal qualities, as well as by introducing a metaphysical
sense of space into an ostensibly naturalistic context. In this regard,
Schiltkamp is very different from neoclassicists such as David Ligare
and Steve Hawley who either cast allegorical subjects in modern dress
or create Arcadian scenes that have the mundane quality of suburban malls.
by contrast, infuses her pictures with a sense of real magic. Hers is
a realm in which extraordinary events unfold in a bravura style to rival
that of Paul Georges, with lots of gravy-brown hues vigorously brushed
to evoke the drama and depth of the Old Masters, yet with occasional bursts
of more strident hues to enliven her scenes with a more contemporary mood
is especially dynamic in paintings such as Ab Urbe Condita,
where several human and animal figures are combined in a dramatic and
tumultuous composition. Here, two soldiers, one nude but for an elaborate
gold helmet, battle with spears and shields, while two other figures struggle
to calm rearing horses against a backdrop of ancient architecture and
stormy skies, as two cat-like creatures prowl nearby. The scene has a
staged quality, but is by no means campy; these figures appear
earnestly engaged in their struggles by virtue of the artists ability
to evoke them convincingly and make her vigorous painting style contribute
to the sense of high action that animates the entire composition.
more pastoral mood, reminiscent of the aforementioned Bob Thompson, is
conveyed in Falconry, a strong painting of a figure with birds
in a landscape, while Outbreak of Horses is another action
packed canvas in which equine figures and their handlers create surging
exciting in another manner is Palazzo Ducale, in which rearing
horses, straining human figures, architecture, and landscape create a
complex sense of movement.
of her paintings, including Snow Geisha, a stately procession
of three elaborately costumed Oriental figures, and Samurai,
an intense composition centering on Japanese warriors in battle, Maryleen
Schiltkamp transports the viewer to exotic times and places, yet retains
the sense of immediacy that we demand of relevant contemporary painting.