ARTnews, May 2001, p. 195.
1 May 2001
Using a palette that evokes both the sepia tones of daguerreotype photographs and the dark paintings of Zurbaran and Goya, Kim Dingle, in her "Never in School" series (2000) of oil paintings on vellum, creates a disturbing, fantastical vision of girlhood. The stars of these compositions are Dingle's recurring "Priss Girls," chracters outfitted in Mary Jane shoes and fluffy white dresses. Belying their innocent attire, the children wreak havoc in classrooms and on playgrounds, engaging in violent and self-destructive acts a la "Lord of the Flies".
In "Never in School (school grounds)", a child lies face down on the floor, the figure outlined in red, hinting at blood; a large girl beats up a smaller girl; another figure, rendered as a bluf, appears to be running away. All are painted with a gestural flair reminiscent of de Kooning--an apt approach for conveying fear and frenzy.
The more abstract or expressionist the paintings, the more successful they are, since, given Dingle's subject matter, they assume a more nightmarish feel. "Never in School (dogfight)" has a faintly Rothko-like background. Cartoonish figures are portrayed alongside dog silhouettes that have been created with quick brushstrokes. At first, the image seems playful, but close inspection revealsthat the animals are attacking.
In "Never in School (Barfing)", a possible reference to bulimia, the figure is portrayed in a loose style; Dingle's brushstrokes are are highly visible. Without the painting's graphic title, it would be hard to determine what was happening. The subject's vomit is represented by a single dark line, but the poetic approach Dingle takes, like a bad memory obscured but not forgotten.