KIM GULINO STATEMENT
Background. I was a typical middle-class kid growing up in suburban 1960’s America. Beyond the walls of my protective house and right before my eyes, I saw the world fall apart. The first culture shock happened at seven when President Kennedy was assassinated, followed by the killing of Lee Harvey Oswald, and the start of the Vietnam War. The Beatles came along at just the right moment to help carry us through the generational power shift. Watching the growing youth movement bring awareness to political and social issues, and demand rights and freedoms, made me impatient to grow up and “be a hippie.” But at twelve, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King were assassinated, and two years later, and in rapid succession, came the Charles Manson killings, the deaths at Altamont, the shootings at Kent State, and the Son of Sam murders. Images of dead soldiers, angry protests and disturbing violence flashed continuously on TV and in magazines. By the mid-70s, the hippies were vilified, their lifestyle mainstreamed, and my chance at “hippie hood” vanished. The ten year war was finally ending, just as the Watergate scandal led to President Nixon’s resignation. Along with all this cultural upheaval, my family moved seven times and when the dust settled, my childhood was over. But by then, I had become a jittery worrywart.
Inspiration. Drawing always calmed me, but how I discovered it, I’m not sure. My education and exposure to art were cartoons, comics, Robert Crumb, and Peter Max, so maybe that’s where my interest started. For all I knew, Andy Warhol and Pop Art were the beginning of art history. I became a bit more “cultured” at college and when I discovered the smelly and messy beauty of oil paint, there was no going back to the drawing board. In the early 80’s, I lived in New Jersey, worked in NYC, and hung out in SoHo, which was an exciting time and place to begin painting. Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring were still alive, and East Village artists such as Julian Schnabel, Kenny Scharf, Nan Goldin, Robert Longo, David Salle, Cindy Sherman and Eric Fischl made a big impression on me – “bad” painting, subway graffiti, overhype and all. I still enjoy the work of Philip Guston, Alice Neel, Ed Paschke and Ida Applebroog, and more recently, Kerry James Marshall, Natalie Frank, and Michael Borremans among many, many others. When reflecting on the artistic past (such as Manet, Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso), I seem to stop where Modernism begins. The art of today simply feels like more familiar territory and I look to these fellow artists to help spark some of my own ideas.
Process. Because I remain curious about this contemporary and crazy world, I want to know who we are and why we act the way we do. I want to hear opinions and understand what we value as a culture, and why. And I want to discover our shared history and our connections, as well as our differences and interactions. It seems natural to explore all this via the human figure. Since I’m not a portrait painter and “real-life” people don’t usually interest me as subjects, the figure is only a symbol used to express my idea. Usually, these ideas are expressed through irony, anger, or irreverence but I have been working toward trying to balance that with a little more grace and maturity, in both content and technique. (Easier said than done!) The media, as in my childhood, continues to be the main source of information and inspiration because of the almost limitless supply of images found in books, magazines, the internet, music, billboards, advertising, and photographs, etc. Appropriating imagery can sometimes be tricky, but it seems to work well for societal observations - whether it’s high, low, pop, media, mainstream or counterculture. Wading through all this visual clutter, I search for clues that lead me to “the heart of the matter” and there, is where I find (my) truth.