Playing Jessa is both a blessing and a curse for Jemima Kirke. It helped the artist/actress win her latest exhibit in San Francisco, but she’d rather be seen as, first of all, an artist.
Before the world came to know her as the actress who plays the wistful bohemian Jessa Johansson on the hit HBO series Girls, the 28-year-old London-born, Brooklyn-based Jemima Kirke was an artist. Kirke even earned a BFA in painting from one of the most prestigious art schools in the country, the Rhode Island School of Design, the alma mater of artists who include Jenny Holzer, Kara Walker, and the late Francesca Woodman. Her art career may have taken an unexpected detour due to her role on Girls, but a new exhibition proves that Kirke, who maintains that she’s an artist before an actress, is still on her way to making it.
Last Friday, San Francisco’s Fouladi Projects opened an exhibition of Kirke’s paintings entitled, “Platforms,” which runs through May 10. Kirke’s second solo show features oil portraits of women in her life. The exhibition almost didn’t happen; Kirke was initially hesitant when the women who run the gallery, Holly Fouladi and Hope Bryson, approached her about staging a show of her work after discovering her email address on her artist website.