2016

May 8
The Washington Post

BLOSSOMS OF LOSS AND DESIRE
New mixed media work reviewed by Mark Jenkins

"Micheline Klagsbrun, whose “Blossoms of Loss & Desire” is also at Studio, germinates flowers and trees out of words, including Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” and Darwin’s descriptions of the fertilization of orchids. So it’s fitting that her recent work includes text, whether inscribed onto a scroll made of bark, or in smeary lettering that radiates in a pattern akin to those of the colored inks the artist splashes onto vellum. The drawing-paintings might be displayed flat or wrapped partway around a branch in light-catching sculpture that’s both solid and airy. Either way, Klagsbrun’s art expresses something of what she calls “the language of the secret garden.”

 

2015

December 4
The Washington Post

FREE FALL FLOW
New mixed media work reviewed by Mark Jenkins

“In Free Fall Flow, Micheline Klagsbrun uses formed paper, poured colored inks and bits of found wood to express a favored theme: metamorphosis. Following the shape of the room, the artist has created a long, curved piece, but there are also ones that hug the wall or hang from the ceiling. The translucent paper, liquid pigments and blue-heavy palette suggest water and flight, while wood and bark represent the heavier and more grounded. Klagsbrun illustrates how life changes both in and by her work, which itself is transforming from traditional painting into something more abstract and sculptural.”

June 5, 2015
The Washington Post

Vessels of Light
New mixed media work reviewed by Mark Jenkins

"The work of Micheline Klagsbrun demonstrates how the artist has expanded her style. “Vessels of Light” are ink paintings on layered paper molded into bowl-like forms, sometimes held in place by wire. If the shapes recall pottery, the translucent material is more reminiscent of paper lanterns. Some pieces incorporate shells, roots or other earthy elements, but the mostly blue palette evokes water and sky.

The exhibition also features wall hangings in a similar mode. The D.C. artist draws, pours and splashes ink on paper, emphasizing fluidity, accretion and the mutations she has previously rendered more literally in paintings based on Ovid’s “Metamorphoses.” Taking this technique off the wall is just another form of transformation, and a natural move toward infusing her art with light."

 

2013

October 20, 2013
The Washington Post

WildFlowers
New mixed media work reviewed by Mark Jenkins

”In her previous show at Studio Gallery, Micheline Klagsbrun riffed on a mythological tale in which a woman becomes a tree. Her new exhibition, ”WildFlowers,” doesn't derive from such a story but still has a strong sense of metamorphosis. The artist's wildflowers, mostly orchids, are rendered on translucent vellum in colored pencil and flowing ink that seems to have dried just a few seconds ago. ”Ghost Orchid,” with its vivid blues, and ”Hibiscus Mutabilis,” with its bold red accents, are among the most immediately striking. But vigor and delicacy balance gracefully in each one.”

 

2012

June 8, 2012
The Washington Post

TREEfever
A solo exhibition of mixed-media paintings and drawings was reviewed by Mark Jenkins

“…Micheline Klagsbrun’s “TreeFever” is also arboreal but with a mythological twist. …whether using oil, ink, gouache, pastel or colored pencil, Klagsbrun has a fluid style that suits the theme of transformation. She depicts limbs, both pink and green, that can become near-abstract tendrils. Some of the images are violent, suggesting the explosive metamorphoses of sci-fi movies, and all are vivid and dynamic…”

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September 13, 2012
The Washington Post

Kiss the Name of the 9 Muses Goodbye
Reviewed by Mark Jenkins

Duo Show with Tom Block, on view through Sept. 30 at Adah Rose Gallery
3766 Howard Avenue, Kensington, 301-922-0162, adahrosegallery.com

"...the pictures in Micheline Klagsbrun’s “Kiss the Name of the 9 Muses Goodbye” are named for Dylan Thomas phrases and inspired by Ovid — her longtime muse. Rendered with colored inks and pencils, these works on paper are smaller and more abstract than the ones in the artist’s recent “Tree Fever” show. Those images mingled human and vegetative forms, as do a few of these, notably the elegantly arching “a nacreous sleep amid soft particles and sleep . . .” It’s one of the standouts, but so is “The Poppy of Sleep,” which depicts pure flora. While Klagsbrun succeeds in depicting what she calls “states of neither/both,” these near-liquid drawings also exalt color, texture and motion. "

> Read Review

 

2011

August 26, 2011
The Washington Post

9/11 Arts Project Collaboration
9/11 Arts Project reviewed by DeNeen Brown

Washington artist Micheline Klagsbrun first noticed the particular brilliance of the blue in the Sept. 11 sky that morning. Then she noticed bodies falling like fragments. Falling, she thought, like Icarus, the mythical figure who flew too close to the sun.

The artist knew she had to create art to help make sense of the tragedy. Inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and an earlier painting she had done of Icarus, she became obsessed with the idea of things falling from a clear blue sky.

In her studio in Northwest Washington, Klagsbrun picked up a luna moth she had found earlier. It was pale green and fragile. It, too, had fallen from the sky, she thought. She began painting a pale jade moth on a fragment of burned paper, burned like the ashes falling in the Sept. 11 sky. What emerged was a moth both beautiful and damaged — like the country, she said.

Ten years later, to commemorate Sept. 11, Klagsbrun has created another painting. The moth has evolved — just like the country — but with strange adaptations.

“The wings have a protective camouflage,” the artist says, pointing to the painting in her studio. “The eyes are on stalks. It is a paranoid adaptation. It has to do with surveillance, suspicion and terror. I want people to think about what have been the trade-offs: How we are surviving? What things we are ignoring? What is going on in the world?”

The painting of the hybrid insect will be displayed Sept. 11, during a reception and poetry reading in collaboration with Split This Rock at the Studio Gallery on R Street NW. To make sense of Sept. 11 ten years later, Klagsbrun and dozens of artists, performers and poets in the Washington area have collaborated in the 9/11 Arts Project, which explores healing through art. It asks: “What happens when you stop holding your breath?”

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2010

December 2010

"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 transformation....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

 

2009

June 11, 2009
Washington Post Express

Immortal Coils
Reviewed by Catherine Ahern

LOOK DEEPLY: The female form, an undersea world, a dream state? It’s not easy to decipher what goes in Micheline Klagsbrun’s strange flowing paintings, but her work in the solo show "Immortal Coils" at Studio Gallery is consistently compelling, like canvas portholes through which one can glimpse a half-forgotten, slightly menacing vision"

 

"Klagsbrun's earlier focus on the ways in which a drawing or a painting could become a visual carrier of a narrative has slowly given way to more intriguing evocations of the idea of change itself. And, even as she remains attached to the idea of the human figure as a compositional core, she has become far more confident in her movements between two impulses: the expressive force of a body and the decorative aspects of its form as an abstraction. Most importantly, she has gained a new level of comfort with the role of chance in her work. In some of her recent paintings, for instance, a generous red stain on an unprimed canvas slowly becomes immersed within, but not suppressed by a reclining female figure painted over it. In others, on the other hand, a spill of color remains just that, with all of its allusive indeterminacy. This willingness to keep her images ever more open to various ways of seeing has brought Klagsbrun closer to Ovid, even as she has slowly left his poem behind and turned towards a more general exploration of the relationship between form and formlessness."
- Aneta Georgievska-Shine, 2009, Dept. of Art History, University of Maryland.

 

2003

"Installed in the Washington Gas Windows, Micheline Klagsbrun's paintings provide a quiet reservoir for thought…. Shimmering, shadowy layers of text, like delicate sheaves of skin or falling leaves, are draped in front of the paintings to obscure and reveal their images, creating levels as if one were looking into water. In the paintings figures emerge and recede from water by virtue of the artist's exquisitely sensual modeling and layering of surfaces of paint... These paintings have come about-metabolized from, in the artist's words-Ovid’s Metamorphoses... The artist has immersed herself in these stories, reading them over and over, and has emerged through the painting of them to distill on canvas moments of emotional essence. There are treasures to behold for passersby who pause to thoroughly take in this work."
- Pat Kolmer 2003

 

OTHER PRESS

EVERYTHING GIVES WAY TO CHANGE
Vesela Sretenović, Senior Curator, Phillips Collection

Free fall flow, river flow
On and on it goes
Breathe under water ‘till the end
Free fall flow, river flow
On and on it goes
Breathe under water ‘till the end
Yes, the river knows!
(Yes, the river knows, The Doors, 1968)

The Doors lyrics echo Micheline Klagsbrun’s work simply and powerfully! Soft and ominous, fluid and cryptic, sinuous and edgy, they are musical correspondents to the artist’s free and flowing visuals.

Free Fall Flow features Klagsbrun’s recent body of work, bringing together ink and pencil drawings on vellum in various scale; large canvases, and three-dimensional wall hangings and sculptural pieces. Populated by hybrid forms—natural and human, animate and inanimate— her works are created through the interplay of lines, colors and textures. Permeated with light, they are weightless and evanescent exploring the notion of transformation, thematically and formally.  

The concept of transformation--or metamorphosis –is imbedded in Klagsbrun’s work alluding to ever-changing cycles of life in nature and humankind, and invoking biological, social, intellectual, and emotional mutations. Metamorphosis also points to interchangeability of polarities such as firm and loose, gentle and violent, powerful and fragile, that pertain equally to the organic world and human behavior. Klagsbrun’s interest in creating artworks that visually and conceptually embody states of transformation comes from a need to grasp the fleeting aspects of life, and to map the changing patterns in the human psyche as well as in natural surroundings. Given her background in psychology, this comes as no surprise. 

Klagsbrun’s early work from the mid 1990s was predominantly figurative and narrative-based, inspired directly by Ovid’s epic, Metamorphoses, and the mythological stories of desire and punishment, passion and sacrifice, fear and courage, endurance and victory. Inhabited by nymphs and sirens, these paintings and drawings are soft yet unstable, depicting imagery of body parts— limbs, arteries, and veins—intertwined with uprooted trees and branches.

Over the years, the artist gradually shifted towards more diluted and abstracted forms that fused human figure with either bestiary (anaconda, python, and jelly-fish); monsters (medusa, chimera and centaurs); or botany (wild orchids, hibiscus, lotus, seedpods, tree branches and twigs). Fluctuating between creepy and sensual, menacing and erotic, these paintings and drawings are visual transcriptions of physical and emotional upheavals.

The most recent work, featured in Free, Fall, Flow, reveals another degree of separation from both the mythological subjects and representational style. Here, the narrative gives way to suggestion, expressed best through the language of abstraction. By staining, pouring, and splashing inks on canvases and vellum sheets, on the one hand, and layering and folding papers into three-dimensional, organic shapes on the other, Klagsbrun arrived at a new vocabulary where the bodies are almost completely distilled in fluid and translucent surfaces of lines, colors, and textures. Displayed side by side, these new paintings, works on paper, and sculptural works are all diaphanous at heart. Mutating from subtle, delicate, and graceful to highly expressive, forceful, and almost violent, they appear flawless, transient, and ethereal. 

Many of the paintings and works on paper, including the Botany of Desire series, are based on actual plants and exotic flowers (irises, lilies, amaryllis, orchids, and tulips), and include a bird motif (the Blue Parrot Tulip Hybrid series). Others are recreations of oceans, waves and the underwater creatures (Oceana, Swoop, Blue Morpho Dance). Mysterious and somewhat anthropomorphic, and painted in predominantly aqua-blue tones, they come across as see-through seascapes to dive into or emerge from. They take you in, but only to set you free in a fancy.

The sculptural pieces—reminiscent of bowls, vessels, coracles, or boats—arenatural outgrowth of the artist’s paintings and drawings. They are containers, or holders made of papier-mâché with added layers of organic elements such as palm leaves, shells, and tree branches, which often became transformed into the shape of a hand. Others, including wall-hangings (Flight), or crawling forms

(Palm Spine and Ondine) represent a return to figuration yet in a more amorphous way that is less controlled, giving way to the unexpected. The exhibition title— Free, Fall, Flow—underlines this further by referring to the free flow of forms, but also the process of working and thinking free of preconceptions, regulations, and limits. It brings back Ovid’s words:

I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities

Vesela Sretenović, Ph.D.

A NEW PORTRAIT EXHIBIT SHOWS LOCAL FEMALE CHEFS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
The Washington Post Express

View here: www.washingtonpost.com

HERE'S WHAT FEMALE CHEFS LOOK LIKE,
IN THE EYES OF ARTISTS

The Washington Post Magazine

Read here: www.washingtonpost.com

PAINTINGS FOR PAIN
In 2013 I was invited to participate in ”Paintings for Pain,” a benefit event for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Six artists were paired with individuals suffering from this little-known yet devastating disease. We worked with these courageous and extraordinarily positive individuals both to express their experience in visual terms, and to raise awareness of this syndrome.

Following the exhibition in Rockville MD, my painting was chosen for permanent exhibition at the Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. This Centre has conducted more CRPS clinical trials than any in the world and I am honored that the organizers of this project feel that my work may become a source of inspiration there.

Learn more at www.rdsa.org

FALL FOR THE ARTS
A.U. Museum at the Katzen Arts Center
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW, DC 20016

Exhibition: September 2–October 5, 2013
Reception: September 5, 6–9 pm
Benefit gala and auction: October 5, 2013
www.american.edu/cas/museum

IMAGINING OVID
February 8–March 17, 2013

This exhibition at Arena Stage was in conjunction with the theatrical production of 'METAMORPHOSES' written and directed by Tony Award winner Mary Zimmerman, (based on a translation by David Slavitt of Ovid's Metamorphoses). Hailed by New York press as a ”gorgeous work…of pure enchantment,” this play focuses on some of the same characters and stories that inspired the exhibition. The result was hailed as an exciting synergy-enriching the experience for all audiences.

Although the exhibition has now closed, you can still check out this interview on Arena Stage's blog.

Arena Stage at The Mead Center
1101 Sixth Street SW, DC 20024

INside O
Selected works from 52 O Street Studios
At Big Bear Café,
First and R Streets NW, Washington DC 20001
Through May 2011
In conjunction with Open Studios May 7-8 2011, selected by Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post.