76 Grand Street
To Friend and Foe was an exuberant painting installation by Margaret Kilgallen that opened Thursday, September 9, 1999 at Deitch Projects. Kilgallen painted the entire gallery from floor to ceiling with an assemblage of signs and iconic images. Kilgallen had a poet’s approach to painting, collaging words and images into a rhythmic visual narrative. Her work had a very contemporary spirit but also had a nostalgic quality, evoking an America where things were experienced directly instead of being filtered through the electronic media.
Kilgallen was part of an increasingly influential group of painters from San Francisco who had been developing a fresh approach to the medium. The work had its roots in mural painting, street graffiti, tramp art, underground comics, and beat poetry. Kilgallen often worked outdoors and was part of the community of graffiti writers, skateboarders, and surfers who created a unique San Francisco visual culture.
Kilgallen surfed nearly everyday when the waves were good, and her painting reflected her immersion in the natural world. Her work was replete with images of trees and resplendent with natural colors. Kilgallen’s painting also reflected her love of typography and old shop signs. She had a background in letterpress printing and for years worked as a book conservator in the San Francisco Public Library, where she was able to absorb hundreds of type fonts and other images that entered into her work.
Kilgallen’s painting installation did not correspond to a preconceived plan but instead emerged out of a poetic process in a visual stream of consciousness. Her rhythmic approach to painting also reflected her immersion in “old time” music. The images were built up in layers like the parts of a song. Her painting installations were accumulations of images and experiences. There were no preparatory sketches and no “handles” such as masking tape and projections. Everything was rendered by hand, and the artist wanted the work to show a personal, hand-made quality. Kilgallen got her paint for free from a recycling center where surplus paint was mixed together to make unusual colors. It was consistent with her approach to use found paint that someone else already started with.
Kilgallen had a solo exhibition in the Drawing Center’s Drawing Room in the fall of 1997. Earlier in 1999, she participated in Frieze, an exhibition of wall painting at the ICA, Boston. This was her first solo exhibition in a New York commercial gallery.
Kilgallen was born in Washington, D.C. in 1967 and grew up in Maryland. She studied letterpress printing at Colorado College and moved to San Francisco in 1989. She passed away in 2001 from breast cancer.
March 8 - 11, 2018
We will present a special solo project by the artist JR.
Image: JR, Migrants, Walking New York City, 2015
April - May 2018
18 Wooster Street
76 Grand Street
New York, NY 10013
Monday – Friday
10 AM – 6 PM
Tuesday – Saturday
Noon – 6 PM
The gallery reopens with People in April 2018.
+1 (212) 343-7300
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