[April 28 2016]
When one first glances the works of artist Natalie Krim, one cannot help feel a bit embarrassed. At face value, these small intimate drawings and collages are soft and sweet, but there’s something incredibly private going on as well. As we take in these artworks, we feel as though we’re being let into someone’s secret world, a place where forbidden desires are allowed to run wild, yet packaged in the sweetness of a teenage girl’s fantasy. Some could say this is nothing new, and that in our social-media-driven visual world images described as these permeate every corner of our culture, but Natalie Krim’s images are different. The works trick you into believing that they’re about sex, but if one looks closer it becomes quite obvious that their surface sexuality is only a means of the artist leading us to distraction. A complicated visual play is happening here with the function to lure the small-minded viewer into a much larger artistic statement. Natalie Krim’sworks are in fact deeply psychological and one could even say political. In concept, one could compare them to works by like Cindy Sherman’s intimate auto-portraits or even Dorothy Iannone’s wild psychedelic drawings. Like Krim, both artists used sexuality as an entrance point, but then once inside, boldly revealed to us the inner workings of their collective souls. With Natalie Krim, sex becomes a metaphor, but in reality these works reveal the silent screams of a young woman coming to terms with herself and her relationship to the world. Perhaps that’s where the sense of embarrassment comes from. Our superficial image based culture has come to define intimacy as something that in reality is not intimate at all. What Krim is exposing to us is well beyond the body and thus sometimes perhaps the most uncomfortable thing to consider. We don’t want to look at other peoples’ sorrow, mostly because it forces us to look at the same things in ourselves. It messes with our fantasy that we are good, the farce that we are all OK. It is precisely this combination of elements that makes Natalie Krim’s works so powerful. While these small, understated works can easily be confused with naïve diary scribbles, we all must consider that perhaps it’s in these unsettling images, in their unsuspecting forms, that our internal world is mirrored back at us in the most exquisite way.
On view until May 14th, 2016 at Little Big Man Gallery, 1427 East 4 Street, Los Angeles.
Text Aaron Rose and photo Mike Krim