Katie Miller, Kitty Lil's Fresh Catch, 2011, oil on panel, 52.5 x 36 inches
We say 'yes' with three concurrent solo exhibitions of new paintings by Erik Thor Sandberg, Nathaniel Rogers and Katie Miller. Six centuries after Flemish oil painting branded the early modern age, each of these DC area painters maximizes his or her command of the realist technique to express the human condition in contemporary life.
The Fancy of Babes is KATIE MILLER’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Relentlessly pushing the realist technique toward hyper-realism, Miller creates artistic characterizations of the consumer-driven hype that fuels the commercial sexualization of children. The artist orders her toddler subjects according to hieratic compositions seen in Renaissance masterpieces by Hans Holbein the Younger and Albrecht Dürer, among others, employing geometric principles from that period to instill her figures with the authority of holy, royal or mythological beings. The anachronistic formats interact with Miller’s exacting rendering of the children’s features and flesh, giving them an otherworldly quality. The youngsters that confront us in these paintings appear disarmingly knowing and self-possessed. This effect is amplified by their attributes, belly button rings and “bling-bling-binky” pacifiers, inspired by Bratz Babyz dolls, and other widely marketed children’s products. Even the kids’ pets - a purse dog, a Cremello horse and a hairless cat - appear to have been bred to exaggerated points of curvaceousness. In her three largest panels, Miller poses the toddlers’ full-length figures in extremely graceful positions that seem to defy anatomy and gravity. Their precarious beauty figures the challenges of balancing childhood with forced adulthood in today’s consumer culture.