My work has been described as “mythological realism”. It can be called “realist” in the sense that figures and forms are at least partially recognizable. However these forms inhabit a different space and time, a dream-world where the law of gravity is replaced by the laws of the unconscious.
I depict transformations from human to bird, from arm to wing, from male to female, from larva to dragonfly, from dream to knowledge. For many years I have immersed myself in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and through his stories I explore moments of transformation itself, moments of chaos when all is in flux and new forms are born. This work is about the processes of change in all of us. We take a leap, grow wings, escape one life, emerge into a new self.
I paint in oils and also work in mixed media on paper, using various combinations of pastel, color pencil, inks, watercolor and collage, building layers of color, texture and dream.
In 2008 I was invited to exhibit at the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in Washington DC. The result was MIRAR/MIRROR: An Exchange of Gazes , a solo show for which I spent a year exploring the indigenous myths of the Amazon, discovering stories - of magical rebirth, cosmic reptiles, the floods of chaos and creation - that paralleled those of the Greek classics.
More recently my fascination with metamorphosis has focused on plants and trees. In 2013 I exhibited “WildFlowers,“works based on actual plants, mostly orchids. Mysterious and exotic, orchids evoke many aspects of the human body in their shapes and symmetry.
I see these works as imaginary hybrid forms that contain elements of different species, combinations of different images.
Maybe these are portraits of some of the many forms as yet unknown to us, species waiting to be discovered.
1662 33rd Street NW
Washington DC, 20007
STUDIO PHONE 202.215.6915
Board of Directors
The Phillips Collection, Board of Trustees
Vera List Center for Art and Politics, Advisory Council
Transformer, Board of Directors
Micheline Klagsbrun studied in Paris with Alfredo Echeverria and at the Corcoran with Bill Newman and Gene Davis. She has exhibited widely, and is in private collections nationally as well as in Europe and the Middle East. Recent solo and group exhibits in Washington D.C. include Arena Stage, gallery plan b, Studio Gallery, Exhibit9 Gallery, the Embassies of Finland and Venezuela, Smith Center for the Healing Arts, Covington and Burling, Adah Rose Gallery, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art; elsewhere, Macy Gallery (New York City), William Ris Gallery (Cape May NJ), Aswan, Egypt and Delhi, India. She will show at the Katzen Museum at American University in 2015.
For many years she co-chaired the Forum for the Psychoanalytic Study of Film, edited the journal “Projections” and was a mentor at the Corcoran School of Art.
She is co-founder and President of CrossCurrents Foundation (founded in 2006) which as part of its mission sponsors art to promote social justice and to heighten public engagement with key social issues.
Green Art: Trees, Leaves, and Roots [Hardcover]
Ashley Rooney and Margery Goldberg, eds. Released February 28, 2014.
2010 HACKETT PUBLISHING COMPANY, INC.
In 2010, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. requested the use of Micheline Klagsbrun’s painting “They Snaked Together (Cadmus and Harmonia)” for the book jacket for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, translated by renowned scholar Stanley Lombardo. Hackett books are distinguished by their high quality and generally recognized for original cover design.
The lotus, sacred in many cultures, was to the Ancient Greeks a transformed nymph, Lotis. The stories of Dryope and Lotis are intertwined, their beauties trapped together. Dryope, a lovely young mother, plucks a lotus, unaware that this blossom is a transformed nymph. The flower starts to drip blood, and Dryope suffers the fate of being turned into a tree.
This artistic collaboration offers a new translation of the story of Dryope and Lotus (Lotis) from Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Abraham Frank’s poetry is interleaved on each page with images by Micheline Klagsbrun and followed by Klagsbrun’s Artists Notes on her experience of working with these stories, exploring their layers of meaning, and the inspiration of the collaborative process.
Full color throughout.
14 pp, 6" x 11.5", signed by the artist. $25.00
Available through www.studiogallerydc.com
You're a beautiful draftsperson. Your figures seem to move from one state to another. You are painting narrative subjects, but your intent is beyond the narrative. I love the idea of leaving the narrative to convey something outside the narrative - the instant of transformational..I guess the process of painting itself is a metaphor for transformation. That's what I like about your recent paintings, like “Medusa Incarnate”. It's as much about the materials as the form, it's all happening now, together, at once. Your work is transforming into something very exciting. (interview excerpt, Dec 2010).
Jack Rasmussen, Director and Curator, American University Museum.
Micheline Klagsbrun and the Ovidian looking glass Copyright Aneta Georgievska-Shine 2009.
Georgievska-Shine is an independent scholar specializing in Northern Baroque and Renaissance art. In addition to her affiliation with University of Maryland as a part-time faculty member, she is a frequent guest lecturer for museums and art institutions including the Smithsonian, and has held several museum fellowships at prestigious institutions. Her publications include numerous articles in U.S. and international journals, essays in exhibition catalogs, as well as a book on Peter Paul Rubens.
Metabolizing the Metamorphoses of Ovid Copyright Micheline Klagsbrun 2009.
To be published in Amphora, the journal of the American Philological Association, Vol 8 (1). In this article I discuss how and why a visual artist turns to the 2,000-year old writings of a classical poet as a source of inspiration.