Contemporary figurative painting is either a readymade thrill ripe for art-market fetishism or else it is an art-word pillar, upholding a revered tradition of representation. So then just what is it that makes today’s figurative painting so different, so appealing? The only thing special about the content of Kim Dorland’s paintings—teenagers hanging out in derelict places—is that it acts as the impetus for the transfiguration of gooey paint. Dorland’s manipulation of paint underlies the structure of his precise forms (cars, a bridge, trees, people)—although they are not photographically exact, they are exacting in their ability to suggest a form’s presence. Dorland thwarts the banality of his own scenes and the homogeneity of contemporary figurative painting with a touch that approaches the alchemical. These paintings embody the pleasure of seeing, as if to see is to feel with the eyes. (Jason Foumberg)
Kim Dorland shows at Kasia Kay Gallery, 1044 West Fulton Market Street, (312)492-8828, through January 13, 2007.