Hedy Klineman's “Ancestral Spirits, African-American Portraits,” is a solo exhibition of more than twenty paintings from two series.
The genesis of the “African-American Portraits”is framed by two significant events. In the eighties, Andy Warhol presented Klineman with a pair of his glasses, which she would incorporate into one of her “Fashion Portraits,” marking her first use of the silkscreen technique. Donning the eyewear, she exclaimed that she 'saw the world Andy sees.' Years later, she received an African mask on her birthday. Instinctually, she put it on, repeating the gesture in a silkscreened self-portrait. These gifts and their presentation echo a kind of ceremony, and their performance would give Klineman new perspective on her art.
Since then, Klineman has been commissioned to create portraits for some of the most eminent members of the African-American cultural community, including Russell and Danny Simmons, Mary Schmidt Campbell, dance choreographer Bill T. Jones, and actor Malik Yoba. Her choice of masks reflects a sensitivity to the cultural significance of these objects and their innate beauty. Ancestry is reawakened through the masquerade of photographic superimposition. The earlier sister series, “Ancestral Spirits,” is a celebration of indigenous sculpture in the tradition of modern art's fascination with these objects.
If these paintings are in the mode of Pop icons, Hedy Klineman's spiritual counter-narrative for the process is entirely her own. Employing an understanding of essence influenced by Eastern philosophy, Klineman's silkscreened paintings hold the presence of their subjects within. Coupled with colorful grounds that relate to Klineman's history as an abstract painter, Ancestral Spirits, African-American Portraits is a celebration of ancestry and community.