Kimberlee Alemian spent much of her childhood abroad in an environment that placed a high value on art. In Thailand, where even the act of folding napkins has artistic merit, and Germany, where she saw some of the world’s great works of art, Alemian cultivated her creative muse and laid the groundwork for her future.
Alemian always had a talent for drawing, but studying under George Nick at the Massachusetts College of Art led her to pursue painting. After earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts, she received a full scholarship to the Master’s program in painting at Boston University, where she studied with David Aronson and Graham Nickson. She continued studying with Nickson at the New York Studio School after completing her Master’s program.
“That was a very important and engaging experience for me,” says Alemian. “I was totally immersed in the art. You’re kind of isolated in a capsule living as an artist. It was a blossoming experience. I still get excited about it today.”
At Boston University, Alemian was introduced to Bay Area Figurative Artists like Richard Diebenkorn, David Park, and Elmer Bischoff. “The way they applied the paint was very energetic. You could see all of the strokes,” she says. “I love the way the paint was applied and the way the light affected their paints. Prior to being introduced to them, I worked very tightly. This really freed me up.” The influence of these painters can be seen in her work today. The authoritative strokes in Iris Emergence and radiance of the flowers in Forsythia Fruit Bowl highlight these pivotal influences as well as showcasing her own unique light, yet painterly, touch.
Alemian was introduced to oil early on in her schooling, but has since worked with a number of different mediums. She eventually settled on oils, which possessed a quality that she couldn’t find elsewhere. “The luminosity is key,” she notes.
Alemian’s vivid, emotionally immediate paintings are nevertheless works of evolution. “It’s about painting, scraping, sanding, and going back into it, sort of like a palimpsest,” she says of her method. In addition to oils, charcoal and pastels are drawn into her paintings and leave traces, showing the history of the painting.
Like her work, Alemian’s influences are constantly evolving. On a trip to Marseille with her husband several years ago, she noticed something that stuck with her. “In the harbor they painted the bottom of their boats and slapped the remaining paint on the concrete wall of the harbor, which dripped down the wall creating its own work of art,” she recalls. “That was when I said, ‘This is what I want: the freedom to let the paint do what it does.’”