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Kate Glasheen: DEAD KINGS, II

Posted on November 14 2020

Kate Glasheen: DEAD KINGS, II
December 4, 2020 - January 9, 2021

Kate Glasheen
Kate Glasheen, Dead King 27 [20th Century Iraqi President], 2020,
Pen and Ink, 16” x 20”

Virtual Opening and Live Artist Q&A
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Paradigm Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by contemporary artist, Kate Glasheen. Glasheen’s exhibition, DEAD KINGS, II (pronounced ‘the second’), is an intricate body of work that depicts world leaders past, present, and dead and comments on their obsessions with materialism, legacy and power. DEAD KINGS, II is opening* on December 4, 2020 and on view through January 9, 2021.
DEAD KINGS, II is a follow up to Glasheen’s 2018 Paradigm exhibition, DEAD KINGS, which presented compositions of fictional rulers in ink on paper. Though fabricated, Glasheen’s characters were eerily connected to the contemporary leaders of today and for this exhibition, the leaders are now real. The timeline’s maw has expanded to swallow up the current day and Glasheen’s Kings’ relevancy moves from allegorical to actual. While her cast of characters are still skeletal, which is typical of the artist’s practice, they are recognizable in the details; their legacies constructed in ink. DEAD KINGS began as a sarcastic body of work that mocked the historical patterns of power; however, as unwieldy kings became contemporary, no longer a thing of the past, Glasheen wonders, ‘With them so close, is the joke the same? Is it funny at all, anymore?’. DEAD KINGS, II seeks to expose the desperate failings of these rulers to maintain power. Power is temporary, and time is the only King.

ARTIST STATEMENT  |  The hole of inferiority is bottomless. For those desperate to fill it, superiority is the only medium with which to try. Superiority is refined into power, and power can come as wealth, status, material possessions, authority, and any number of permutations within those categories. The avenues for its possession are limitless, and as such, without any indicator of completion. There is no finish line, there is no point at which to claim victory, which is what the drive for power truly is. So that drive continues on and on, past any reasonable stopping point, an animal brain gone haywire with an unfulfillable directive.

This drive for “more” is in direct relationship to a societal and climate-based apocalypse. Our survival as a species relies on the ability of those in control to say “enough,” but the psychological void where power lives never fills, and prevents that entirely. We witness our modern day kings bypass their own survival drive with infinite greed and it’s absolute insanity. The common man is hostage, and our abductors are insatiable.

My previous Kings were all fabrications from the past: composites of a particular era and culture’s textiles, weapons, armor, and sometimes furniture. These kings were fictional characters built through the summation of researched parts. They were largely medieval, which I intended to add to the illusion of separation between fact and fiction through the veil of time. As I shift into DEAD KINGS, II, the kings have become real. The timeline’s maw has expanded to swallow up the current day and their relevancy moves from allegorical to actual. Each figure is representative of specific individuals who ruled in history, or are currently ruling.

My previous work was an inflated, sarcastic parody mocking historical patterns of power because they never stayed historical. But the kings are now contemporary; they’re fact, not fiction. Something we could laugh at from the safe distance of centuries is now right behind us, and above us. They’re sharing our years, they’re dictating our days, they’re in our homes, poisoning our relationships. With them so close, is the joke the same? Is it funny at all, anymore?

Despite different titles and approaches, all they’ve ever wanted was to be a king. Despite different infrastructure and proletariat, all they ever wanted was a serfdom. The mold that casts the heart of the ruling class has remained the same for all time, supported by the buttresses of a deluded peasantry, convinced that they, too, will partake if their devotion is blind enough. Now, as a direct result, this time has reached a crossroads of possible conclusion. 

As this death cult accelerates planetary annihilation, the small comfort to be gleaned is that those who do so are fools, and they’re jokes. Power once-procured does not negate the fact that the need for power lives within a person, and a need for power is inherently pathetic.

Despite their best efforts for immortality through materialism.

Despite their shrieking, frightened power grabs masquerading as strength.

All their efforts are in vain. The trappings of their, and my, and your, final moments may look very different, but that last, shared second will be identical. As will the possessionless, meaningless, nothingness that follows. 

Despite all their desperate flailings against a truth they try to outlive, and despite the chronological repetition of petulant tantrums for a victory that doesn’t exist, they themselves are the ones who are lorded over. Power is temporary, and time is the only King.

-Kate Glasheen

*Due to COVID-19, “DEAD KINGS, II” will be available for viewing by appointment only or on until further notice. These policies are dependent on the current policies of the CDC, WHO and the Governor and Mayor’s offices.

Paradigm Gallery’s number one priority is the safety and wellness of their visitors. For live updates on the exhibition and appointments, please visit the Paradigm website and socials. For any questions on Paradigm’s current policies, please email

About Kate Glasheen
Kate Glasheen graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY with a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts. Kate has since been a creator, artist, and contributor for several critically acclaimed books, participated in exhibitions across the country, and worked on some of the biggest properties in entertainment. Her artistic interests find communion in fine and sequential art under the notion that there's something hilarious about something that's not funny at all.

Kate has exhibited her work in spaces such as LA’s Gallery 1988, Philadelphia’s Paradigm Gallery, and Brooklyn’s Gristle Gallery. Published works include Top Shelf’s A Radical Shift of Gravity (with collaborator Nick Tapalansky), contributions to the Adventure Time series (BOOM! Studios), Hybrid Bastards! (Archaia Entertainment), The Sakai Project (Dark Horse Comics), several entries in the Graphic Canon series (Seven Stories Press), Resist! (Françoise Mouly, Nadja Speigleman, and Desert Island), Kickstarter funded Bandage: A Diary of Sorts, and Line Webtoon’s dark teen drama, Varsity Noir.

Commercial clients include Paramount Pictures, Cartoon Network, AMC, Topps, Inc., and many others with work spanning such properties as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and The Walking Dead.

About Paradigm Gallery
Established February 2010 in Philadelphia, Paradigm Gallery began as a project between co-founders and curators, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston, as a space to create and collect in a welcoming gallery setting. Now open 10 years, Paradigm Gallery is globally recognized and known as a tastemaker within their greater Philadelphia arts community. As the gallery grows, it maintains its original mission to keep art accessible. Through monthly donations, free public art installations and initiatives like Insider Picks, Paradigm Gallery, continues to be a champion of small businesses and emerging artists.

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Philadelphia, PA 19147

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