Interview with Painter and Art Curator Kimia Kline


Wythe Hotel

Kimia Ferdowsi Kline is one of the very first artists I had the pleasure to interview at the beginning of my blogging and whose inspiring work I have followed ever since. Currently, along with continuing devoting herself to her painting, she has also taken the challenge of the job of art curator at Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn. Housed in a renovated 1901 factory building on the Williamsburg waterfront, Wythe Hotel is a combination of old school and modernist, effortless coolness, and the art showcased here only enhances its visual impact. If you have ever come across, and I am sure you have, the lack of interest and effort that usually goes into this part of hotel decorating, you can certainly appreciate why it takes an artist of Kimia’s talent to take this experience to a new level. I have recently caught up with Kimia on the ideal combination of her own studio work and her job, about the satisfaction of finding her own place in the art world and about what is so special about New York City that it influences her life so differently than the rest of the places she has lived in.

Besides your painting and drawing, you are now also curating the permanent art collection at Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn. Tell me a little about your job.
I’m the curator of the permanent art collection at Wythe Hotel. We have 70 rooms and plan to fill each of them with the original work of emerging and established artists. I get to visit artists in their studios, talk with them about what they make and why, and then purchase pieces for the Hotel. Sometimes this means purchasing a final painting or photograph, and other times it means purchasing a sketchbook or unfinished remnant of the creative process, and framing these bits and pieces to hang in the rooms. I also organize the opening exhibits we have for our artists, which is kind of like running a mini gallery inside the Hotel.

How do you balance your own art and the time you spend in your studio with your job?
I’m lucky because these two aspects of my work fit together pretty seamlessly. As a painter, I constantly meet other artists, attend shows, etc.. This connection with my artistic community opens doors into my curatorial work at the Hotel. At the same time, a flexible schedule at the Hotel allows me to continue my studio practice and make my own work. The combination of these two roles is ideal, so really I look at both jobs as one and the same. In the end it doesn’t feel like balancing because they don’t feel different.
Limoncello by Kimia Kline

Limoncello, by Kimia Kline

I find a hotel room a very tricky terrain to exhibit art. From my experience, the photographs or painting reproductions that often hang on the walls of hotel rooms are bland, if not totally uncomforting, and many times set off the balance of the space. How do you (and how challenging is to) choose the art for the hotel? What is the atmosphere you are aiming for?
A big part of what I look for is the ability of our guests to connect to the creative process of the artist and have access to the story behind how the work is made. We collect a mix of final pieces, but also the sketches that go into making them. Recently we have been purchasing the sketchbooks of artists, and taking them apart to frame as final pieces. Unlike most hotels, the work we hang in each room is different and original. There’s an authenticity and individuality to the work, and I think guests feel this when they come to stay with us.

How do you source the art you are curating?
I go to as many openings and galleries as I can. I also personally know a lot of artists because I’m a painter. Artists are always sharing names and work with each other, so I have a pretty steady stream of art to look at and think about. I also get a lot of submissions and always take the time to look and see if the work is the right fit for the Hotel.
Wythe Hotel Art Curator Kimia KlineWythe Hotel

Julia Clift, Wythe Hotel

Wythe Hotel Brooklyn

Caitie Moore, Wythe Hotel

Wythe Hotel art curator Kimia KlineWythe Hotel Art

Left: Carrie Schneider / Right: Wilmot Kidd, Wythe Hotel

What do you love the most about your job?
I love and deeply admire the people I work with and for. It’s an incredible thing to come to work and feel like you’re home. And then also get to buy art.

Since its opening, Wythe Hotel has garnered a strong local following, capturing the neighbourhood’s hip factor and creating a unique hotel experience. Describe the attraction of and the aesthetic at Wythe Hotel.
It’s a beautiful combination of old and new. The building is a factory from the early 1900s, so we have exposed brick, arched windows, and big California yellow pine beams. At the same time, there’s also radiant-heated concrete floors and mint green side tables, so there’s a strong industrial aesthetic paired with the romance and charm of an old factory. I think the attraction is both in terms of the beautiful design, but also in regards to the people that work there. The Hotel is owned and staffed with really smart, creative, genuine individuals, and I think this more than anything leaves guests wanting to return again and again.

Are there guests of the hotel who express a further interest in the works of the artists present there? Can Wythe Hotel serve as a platform for emerging artists?
We have lots of guests ask questions about the artwork hanging in the rooms, as well as in the public spaces. I think it’s certainly fair to say that Wythe Hotel is a platform for emerging artists.
Dreams of Apple Picking by Kimia Kline

Apple Picking, by Kimia Kline

Tell me about your painting at the moment.
Lately I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from my father’s stories about his childhood garden in Tehran: a walled enclosure full of pomegranate trees and a pool in the center. I’m not able to visit Iran due to religious persecution and the execution of my grandfather in 1982, so I’ve established a connection with this ghost homeland through recreating these garden paradises. The paintings become arenas for experience–a way to participate in a time and place I’m barred from otherwise. The figures are often self-portraits and act as a way of inserting myself into these memories and stories. The landscapes are purposefully detached from a literal appearance of nature because the paintings are reconstructed, flattened spaces, based on imagination and invention, and the collective memory of my family.
Shiraz Morning by Kimia Kline

Shiraz Morning, by Kimia Kline

I have noticed the garden as a recurrent theme in your most recent paintings. Where does this interest originate from?
I lived in India from 2011 to 2012 and became familiar with the garden design known as “Chahar Bagh”,which literally means “Four Gardens”, This garden layout is originally Persian and was brought to India during the Mughal dynasty. Because my family is originally from Iran, I felt a special interest and connection to these gardens, especially in light of the stories I grew up hearing about my father’s garden as a child. So over time they slowly began to enter my work in a significant way.
A Courtyard by Kimia Kline

A Courtyard, by Kimia Kline

How does New York City influence you artistically differently than all the rest of the places you have lived in from all over the world?
Because New York is the center of the art world, I’m constantly seeing really excellent work–and this inspires me to work harder and try to close the gap between my artwork and the artwork of the legends I admire. None of the other places I’ve lived have filled me up with so much energy, and I think that’s really what’s influenced me most in this City.

One thing you can’t start your work day without:
Black tea.

What makes you happy at the end of the day?
A lot of people told me it was unrealistic and irresponsible to pursue a career in art. So at the end of most days I guess I’m just really happy I proved them wrong, and now get to do the work I love in my favorite city.
Pink Garden by Kimia Kline

Pink Garden, by Kimia Kline

photos: 1-Wythe Hotel, the rest of the photos courtesy of Kimia Kline / 2 & 8-11: Kimia Kline paintings / 4,6-photos by Lauren Wells / 5,7-photos by Kimia Kline

Posted by classiq in Crafts & Culture, Interviews | | 3 Comments

An Equestrian Story

Equestrian story 
I have regularly expressed my love for the equestrian style (especially accessories and jewellery because they can easily be adapted to the everyday use) on the blog. This goes back to my childhood and my grandfather. I haven’t met or heard of someone who loved horses more than my maternal grandfather. He owned and raised horses during almost his entire lifetime (he passed away last year, he would have been 90 this autumn), one more beautiful than the other, and he inflicted his love and respect for these magnificent creatures in both my brother and me, even though neither of us has had the courage to ride again after a bad fall off a horse (our own fault) when we were children.

There is nothing that reminds me more of my grandfather than the old tradition of the equestrian world. The raw and rugged lifestyle, his well worn clothes, with beat-up hats and faded check shirts, that he loved because they were elements of his certain kind of life tinted with the hard work of the land, the freedom he felt in the countryside, the early mornings spent at the blacksmith to mend or make new horseshoes under his feared scrutiny (nothing less than perfect was accepted), the pride in having the best and most polished harness and saddle, the minutious feeding and caring for the horses that took place daily with more rigour than meals were served. Whether it’s a stirrup bracelet, a pair of riding style boots, a cross-body bag or belt with stirrup hardware, a weathered leather jacket, a riding shirt or a horseshoe necklace, I like to think of each piece as a small way to cherish my grandfather’s memory and legacy.

photo by me / background photo from the book Ralph Lauren by Rizzoli

Posted by classiq in Style | | 2 Comments

White Dog

White Dog 1982

by guest writer

White Dog (1982) bears the signature of Samuel Fuller, one of the most valuable American independent directors. Starting out as a war journalist, Sam Fuller began to write screenplays for big Hollywood names from the 1930’s. His films usually employ subjects that involve social aspects. White Dog will probably remain in my head for a long time and many of his other movies have the same echo.

The opening scene finds a young woman driving somewhere on a dark foggy road hitting by mistake a beautiful white Alsatian Shepard. The film builds its tension with the help of fast cutting and impressive music by Ennio Morricone. Samuel Fuller’s talent shows even in this late product of his filmography. With his uncompromising film, he is able to convey such a racial tolerance message through events that unfold in the eyes of a dog that was destroyed by a crippeled, twisted society when he was a puppy, having been trained to attack black people. Using a dog’s behaviour to emphasize the real human cruelty is the movie’s target and accomplishment. This may as be the most original movie on American racism ever made.

photo: Criterion

Posted by classiq in Film | | 2 Comments

A Beauty Secret from Ingrid Bergman

Ingrid Bergman by David Seymour 
This year marks a centenary since Ingrid Bergman’s birth. The Festival de Cannes has chosen to pay tribute to the Swedish actress in all her beauty with this year’s poster, based on a photograph of Ingrid by David Seymour. These photos here were also taken by Seymour in 1952 in Santa Marinella, Italy. Her relaxed, natural beauty, dressed in a man’s shirt, shines through, reminding me of her no makeup philosophy she stayed true to all her life. I don’t entirely go by the same rule, but I do subscribe to the less is more belief. Ingrid refused to let Hollywood tinker on her face and image. Cary Grant used to say about the actress (admittedly, I love quoting him on this every time I have the chance): “I was very fond of Ingrid. She was an amazing woman… She used no makeup, not even lip rouge. Why don’t more actresses imitate her instead of going the other way? You can tell how secure a woman is by the amount of makeup she uses.” And if a man, and what a man, says it…

Ingrid Bergman by David Seymour 1952

photos: David Seymour, 1952, Santa Marinella, Italy (first image: Ingrid and Gregory Peck)

Posted by classiq in Beauty & Beautiful Living | | Leave a comment

The Jeans Look and The Genuine Tastemaker

Emmanuelle Alt-the jeans look 
I was recently asked in an interview what my daily style was. Classic, simple, relaxed would be the general definition, and if I were to choose just one look that best reflected that, I would have to say that I feel my best when I’m wearing jeans, high heels and a shirt, or a blazer with a simple t-shirt underneath: a good balance between feminine and easy-going. And because I don’t do personal outfit posts, the best example is showing the one who, in my opinion, carries the look best, Emmanuelle Alt.

And here is where the tastemaker part comes in. Because when it comes to personal style, I am more and more reluctant about accepting the general opinion of personal outfit bloggers as inspiration (there are hardly any I pay attention to). Even the ones with an understated taste, similar to my own, often seem unnatural, because the simple fact that they photograph themselves with the clear purpose of showing off the clothes they are wearing (and labeling them) makes me cringe.

My friends with impeccable taste but who don’t have blogs, the beautiful women I see in the street, inspiring women from different fields of activity which have nothing to do with fashion, but who show a fantastic sense of style, or fashion insiders who don’t want their outfits to have a stronger voice than themselves and whose pared-down personal styles often completely ignore trends and still remain relevant – these are the real style role models for me and the ones worth looking up to. The clothes they wear are not taken out of the context – these are real women leading real lives, having more interesting stories to tell than the clothes they put on in the morning. And that’s why those same clothes end up by having something to say after all.
Emmanuelle Alt-the jeans look

photos: A Love Is Blind

Posted by classiq in Style | | 7 Comments