REVIEWS / PRESS / CATALOG ESSAYS
"These are not portraits. They are about paint’s great ability, and perhaps ultimate failure, to capture a likeness. We are all Eva, nearly vanishing into the background, or Paula or Sam, with penetrating gazes and fugitive expressions. We are all impossible, truly, to portray. Kiely doesn’t try. Instead, she paints the very evanescence of identity."
The Boston Globe, Sept. 1, 2019, "Colleen Kiely: Women on the Verge" by Cate McQuaid, Critic's Pick in The Ticket
"This pop-up exhibition curated by Robert Moeller nods to Pedro Almodovar's 1988 film, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown." Kiely, a painter, conjures women from art historical sources, studying sketches of artist's models and self-portraits by women. She takes off from there to meditate on female identity, inventing portraits that are sometimes direct and sometimes elusive."
"Time Lived, Time Imagined", catalog essay by Susan L. Stoops in Colleen Kiely: Selected Works 2012-2016, OSP Catalogs, Boston, MA 2016
..."While the paintings reflect the bond between woman and dog, Kiely also paints the distance between Beau and her, acknowledging those things they could never understand about each other. The paintings’ conceptual complexities may seem at odds with such apparently accessible subject matter – a dog at rest, at the window, in the park – and a narrative based on the artist’s and dog’s daily routines amidst familiar environs. But they place Kiely’s practice in direct dialogue with traditions in art and literature as well as contemporary scientific and cultural studies engaged with redefining relationships between humans and other animals."
…”In Colleen Kiely's work, the afterimage is a longing; a spiritual or emotional longing that shifts and unsettles us. A school bus, driving children and our own longing away from us, leaves the residue of absence behind. My first, casual glance at this drawing remains brightly lit in my memory even now, weeks after first "seeing" it. My primordial, unconscious reaction was an overwhelming memory of the smell of the bus I took to school. The smell of vinyl, and forgotten lunches. Locked in a part of my brain stem, these reactions were instant, almost like they were encoded in some part of my DNA.”
The Boston Globe, November 2, 2011, “Drawings Spark an Edgy Dialogue” by Cate McQuaid
"… there are some terrific drawings here....Elise Kaufman's delicate townscape...swims like a mirage...Colleen Kiely's graphite "School Bus," showing the square rear of the bus trundling into the distance, has a similar mournful quality."
Metroland, July 23, 2009, Volume 32, No. 30, “Vehicles for Fun?” by Nadine Wasserman
"…Inspired by her many hours commuting, Kiely depicts the rear of cars, trucks, buses, RV’s, and motorcycles from the view of a driver looking at the road ahead. Kiely lends these machines a more whimsical tone by drawing them on delicate white-paper doilies. Even so, they exhibit a melancholy tone. They are always departing, never arriving, and they leave the viewer with a sense that time is fragile and fleeting…"Art New England, June/July 2006, Review of solo exhibition at Trustman Gallery/Simmons College by D’lynne Plummer
"The title of Colleen Kiely’s one-person painting show, Between What I Say & What I See, implies an occupation of the space between perception and language..."
Pretty/Sweet: The Sentimental Image in Contemporary Art, catalogue, 2005, DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, text by Senior Curator Nick Capasso
"With traditional oil and acrylic paints, as well as craft-store glitter, sequins, and fabrics, Colleen Kiely has created a new body of work: images of sad pups in floppy flowered hats. These paintings – cute, grotesque, and hilarious – are predicated on the image of the big-eyed waif, popularized by the mass-market reproductions of paintings by Margaret and Walter Keane in the 1950s and 1960s (and their ubiquitous spawn), which forms the least common denominator of American domestic visual culture. Attractive and repulsive, Kiely’s radical aesthetic reveals a deep-seated ambivalence about kitsch felt by both the artist and her audience. Kiely addresses campy and lowbrow iconography with sophisticated bravura painting techniques to create highbrow art. Her gorgeous yet loony artworks question aesthetic and class distinctions, competing notions of beauty, and the emotional integrity of painting in the early twenty-first century."
Painting in Boston: 1950-2000, University of Massachusetts Press, 2000, “The New Painting: A Widening Discourse in the Nineties,” essay by Ann Wilson Lloyd
"…The realities of pop culture and consumerism also figure prominently in the work of Colleen Kiely…Beyond the mere acquisition of stuff and knick-knacks, however, Kiely probes our emotional investment in inanimate, adorable objects. Her paintings have links with real, somewhat bizarre cultural phenomena that quietly take place beneath the scope of high culture." READ MORE…
The Boston Phoenix, 2/13-19/04, “Smash Hits: The BCA’s 18th Drawing Show” by Christopher Mills
"…Colleen Kiely contributes eight wonderful drawings on paper doilies whose lightness and flimsiness is at odds with her imagery – she draws vehicles, cars and trucks, buses and flatbeds, as seen from a rear-view mirror. They’re rendered with such vital clarity that, despite the lacy edges, you think you can smell exhaust fumes…"
Art New England, April/May 2004, Review of solo exhibition at Bernard Toale Gallery by Mariana Mogilevich
"…(Kiely) is skilled at making the cute, the beautiful, or the delicate become grotesque. These drawings perform that process in reverse. In miniature, the most brutal, lumbering features of environment become substanceless, and almost dainty." READ MORE…
Art New England, October/November 2004, “Biennial Juried Exhibition” at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art by Donna Gold
"…Colleen Kiely’s graphite drawings of 18-wheelers, kayak-topped cars, and other vehicles reflect another loneliness. Drawn on the paper doilies you might find beneath a cake at a roadside diner, they add a domestic tension to the story of the road…"
The Boston Globe, April 20, 2001, “Kiely’s Works Offer Unnerving Mixtures” by Miles Unger
"… Kiely’s images have an uncanny ability to both attract and repel. Beautifully painted, often in cheery pastel colors, and festooned with glitter and sequins, they have an unsettling presence." READ MORE…
The Radcliffe Quarterly, “The Radcliffe Questionnaire,” Interview, Spring 2001. READ HERE....
The Boston Globe, June 12, 2001, “Kiely’s ‘Glimmer’” by Cate McQuaid
"…Kiely calls her show “Glimmer” because she focuses on the edge of perception, the place where meaning slips into place and then vanishes. " READ MORE…
Art New England, April/May 1999, “The Edge of Vision/The Edge of Sight” at the Montserrat College of Art Gallery by Joshua Meyer
"…Kiely bridges the gap between these internal and external images by focusing on the painting itself. She merges representational images and an aesthetic sense of the surface – how the painting itself looks. While Dash’s vision exists primarily in her imagination, Kiely’s vision lives first and foremost on the canvas."
The Edge of Vision/The Edge of Sight, catalogue, 1999, Montserrat College of Art Gallery, text by Barbara O’Brien
"…In these paintings, the weight of the body plays against moments of pure illusion. The vacant eyes in Tangerine Twist turn aggressively toward the viewer…We may rush toward or away, fill in the gaps or leave them empty, but the paintings continue to haunt."
Art New England, February/March 1998, Review of solo exhibition at Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art by Miles Unger
"Colleen Kiely does more than flirt with bad taste; she climbs into bed with it, and the fact that she emerges from this liaison with our profound respect is a tribute to her remarkable abilities as a painter…" READ MORE…
The Boston Globe, October 22, 1998, Review of Solo Exhibition ‘Peepers’ at Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art by Cate McQuaid
"Bambi takes a Grimm turn in the paintings of Colleen Kiely at Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art. Kiely is a painter’s painter, tackling questions of form that could throw a discerning viewer into existential angst…" READ MORE…
The Boston Globe, December 12, 2000, “19th Lois Foster Exhibition of Boston Area Artists” at the Rose Art Museum by Cate McQuaid
"…Colleen Kiely paints stuffed animals and dime-store figurines in exaggerated strokes that emphasize the innocence these figures represent, but a mystery of sexuality and violence exists just below the surface…"
Bay Windows, March 26, 1998, “Museum School Traveling Scholars 1997” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston by Ben Harmon
"Colleen Kiely takes us by the hand and leads us through a bizarre and otherworldly vision. She knots together religious icons and kitsch, porcelain dolls and bright colors with a bit of skepticism."