Monday, February 22, 2010

Bill Killen

Bill Killen of Burrillville, Rhode Island, redraws Renaissance prints by Albrecht Durer, substituting porn stars for saints. As seen in his exhibit at AS220 last month, he adds twin jailbait girls — one lifting her skirt — into Durer's engraving of St. Philip. He removes St. Anthony from a Durer engraving and inserts a pair of scantily clad women sunbathing with a boombox hanging from the saint's cross. He turns an engraving of Jesus being whipped before crucifixion into a S&M scene by replacing Christ with a pair of porn stars, one with her underwear pulled down to mid-thigh, enjoying the rough stuff.

Killen's sacrilegious smut is in outrageously poor taste — purposely so — and so pointing this out sounds more like a compliment. And the guy can really draw, in this case using the antiquated medium of silverpoint, a technique Durer himself used in the 16th century. It reads as a challenge: anything Durer can do I can do too. At times, Killen seems to be pointing out the smut running through old master art that has been given a patina of class by time. But the weakness is that it mostly reads as a sweaty middle school one-liner.

Bill Killen, AS220's Main Gallery, 115 Empire Street, Providence, to Jan. 3 to 29, 2010.

Pictured: Bill Killen, "Nemesis," silver point on prepared paper.


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