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Val Kilmer is back — as an artist with a New York City gallery show

The actor known for macho roles in "Top Gun" and "Batman Forever" is discovering his sensitive side through painting and sculpture.
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    "Gold Mac" by Val Kilmer Photo: Courtesy Woodward Gallery

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    "Time with My Son" by Val Kilmer Photo: Courtesy Woodward Gallery

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    Val Kilmer's art meditates on themes of transformation. Photo: Courtesy Woodward Gallery

Bet you haven’t heard the name Val Kilmer lately — and definitely not in the context of fine art.

Yet the star of “Top Gun,” “Tombstone” and one of the less memorable (for better or worse) entries in the Batman franchise, “Batman Forever,” is making his New York City art world debut at Woodward Gallery on May 20.

The exhibition, “Valholla,” features about 20 paintings, sculptures and sketches by the actor. Though he calls them “scribbles,” his previous collage series titled “Wonderland” has been exhibited internationally. Though Woodward is an appointment-only gallery, a rep tells Metro most of the works will be visible through its street-level glass wall. Oh, and Kilmer himself will drop by randomly, so keep an eye on their social.

“My love for New York is very, very deep. Because of the theater it has been my mecca since early childhood,” according to a statement from Kilmer posted by the gallery, which describes his exhibit as “a celebration of New York” and says the actor approached them about hosting the show. “Every film, every photograph spoke of the promise of a new life, worth dreaming of… It is holy ground for me.”

The exhibit's name riffs on Valhalla, the realm of the afterlife in Norse mythology (and maybe, by our best guess, “holla at ya boi”?) Just as the Vikings passed into the next realm, the 57-year-old has been on his own existential journey from fame to not-fame and reflecting on his self-worth through “contemporary gestural abstractions” and pop art, like a gold-painted 1980s Macintosh and Andy Warhol-style portraits of Jim Morrison.

“I’ve been in a transition and focusing in on this moment of moving through a period of my life as the concept of a black hole —  one’s third act or, for an actor, from lead to character parts,” Kilmer’s statement continued. “It’s this moment of identifying the passageway, that black hole moment, and the promise or recognition that it’s not black at all.”

It's a little dramatic, but there’s something beautiful about finding life after a major loss like the death of one’s previous identity. Kilmer also takes on heavy questions about god and spirituality, suggesting that there can be many gods known by a single name. Just as, say, the many actors who have played the Caped Crusader?

The gallery also provided a glimpse of Kilmer’s artistic process. “He will start the day exploring an emotion – from prayer, a bit of newsprint, a song, the ocean, music or birds. A gesture of color – an impulse – often counterintuitive, shifts his process from slow, quiet and lazy to break-through moments attacking with a frenzy of movement. Suddenly, the painting starts to emerge like the old days of developing a photograph – something familiar emerges. He follows it, tries to serve it.”

If that sounds like your brand of Kool-Aid, Kilmer’s work will be on display through July 22.

 

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