Mother, mogul… muse. Since her humble beginnings, Kim Kardashian has captured the hearts and minds of the global population in a way that can only be likened to the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa or the late great Princess Diana. Far from being confined to the pale atriums of her Calabasas complex, our girl Kim has wormed her way into every stitch of the culture, with likenesses splashed on every imaginable surface and a record of business endeavours to rival Elon (Kimade By Kim Kardashian can still be purchased on Amazon). However, the fervour continues and our thirst for more remains unquenched, with Ms Kardashian’s Balenciaga-clad form most recently finding a home in East London’s Nicoletti Gallery. A far (and colder cry) from the sun-soaked streets of Los Angeles, the capital is celebrating a little all-american glamour with the help of Ruby Dickson’s painted homage to the Kween ofreality TV. Titled in reference to one of KKW’s snappy soundbites: ‘Maybe my fairy-tale has a different ending than I dreamed it would. But that’s OK.’ Dickson’s show is an exploration of authenticity and performance in the chronically online age. Despite the initial insta-worthy impression, there’s more than meets the eye with the life-size paparazzi pics posted up around the gallery. From Kim’s staged stance and oversized shades to the unfinished edges of the canvases and black rubber flooring, Dickson navigates beyond traditional celebrity portraiture and invites viewers to dissect contemporary iconography. By immersing the viewer in the complexities of image production, circulation, and consumption, Dickson offers a refreshing take on the superficiality and spectacle of modern celebrity culture.

Ruby Dickson, ‘KIM KARDASHIAN STOPPED BY THE HOT & COOL CAFE ON MONDAY WITH HILLARY AND CHELSEA CLINTON, JANUARY 25’, 2024. Oil paint on canvas, 200 x 120 cm. Courtesy of the artist and NıCOLETTı, London. Photo: Jack Elliot Edwards.

For a woman who is continually photographed and immediately captured with the click of the shutter, Kim Kardashian could initially seem a redundant and undeserving subject to dedicate the laborious practice of painting, but Dickson’s depictions serve to merge fact and fiction in a way that the pap-pictures can’t. Despite the scale (kim-sized), these paintings aren’t concerned with realism and authenticity takes a back seat as Dickson presents a band of exaggerated, cartoonish Kims, with the snatched waists and distorted proportions of someone who’s undergone their fair share of BBLs and rounds of Ozempic. Kim herself is a character and although we’ll probably never know the full extent of the PR agenda ensuring we (often unwillingly) keep up with the Kardashian, it’s hard not to be impressed with the sheer level and success of self-mythologizing. As bleak as it may sound, the Kardashians have become the closest thing to a fairy tale we’ll see in the 21st century and Kim’s journey from Paris Hilton’s overburdened assistant to superstar-mogul proof that the American dream is alive and well if you’re willing to get your ass up and work. Dickson’s work serves to further fictionalise, adding fuel to the fire of the woman, the myth, the legend. Kim is her ownfairytale creation, an unrivalled example of the marvels of social media spin and modern-day celebrity culture,deified through fans and onlookers. Through her depictions, Dickson asks viewers to question the constructed identities and carefully curated personas of our celebrity-obsessed culture. Is Kardashian more fiction than reality?

Ruby Dickson, ‘Maybe my fairy-tale has a different ending than I dreamed it would. Butthat’s OK.’, solo exhibition at NıCOLETTı, London, 2024. Photo: Jack Elliot Edwards.

With titles like Kim Kardashian unveils BTS of getting wrapped up in shipping tape and Kim Kardashian dresses in head to toe snakeskin as she heads to Dior show with Kourtney, the exhibition acts as a sort of immersive storybook of Kim’s greatest hits with each work presenting a 2024-appropriate alternative to the more traditional picture books we grew up with. Titles are blunt and informative, there’s no need for adjectives or flowery language when the subject matter is fictitiousenough as it is. Each work is inspired by actual paparazzi pictures, the composition staged by design. Simultaneously, Dickson creates a collage of recognisable pop-culture moments presented in this uniform row of life-sized Kims – the Birkin bag, the Balecnaiga tape – signifies anyone who’s spent too long on the internet will recognise. By including these familiar emblems, Dickson further feeds into the fairy tale, creating images that are simultaneously fantasy and … very familiar. The unfinished backgrounds andquick brushwork point to the incessant onslaught of Kardashian content we’re met with on a near-daily basis, as Dickson’s paintings act as a diary of Kim’s iconic outfits as if shot back to back in a studio rather than captured as candid images. There is an immediacy to the paintings that is reminiscent of the way we consume this kind of media, usually scrolling, through ascreen, and the hasty-air of the pieces points to this, as if Dickson is trying to keep up with Kim’s ever-changing wardrobe via the brushstrokes. Similarly, the rubber flooring and split canvases add to the atmosphere of the content farm, the wipeability and squeak of the floor underfoot adding a comical sense of sterility to the setting. The painting’s panel construction creates a sort of immaculate corpse build-your-own-Kim, implying that you could simply swap out the body and the head every day and build infinite variations of Kim’s fits to keep up the endless thirst for content creation we all seem to have normalised and acclimated to.


By presenting us with these fictitious Kims, Dickson shines a spotlight on our image-obsessed culture and the artifice of celebrity. ‘Maybe my fairy-tale has a different ending than I dreamed it would. But that’s OK.’ is a celebration of the absurdity and allure of celebrity culture, there’s nothing pretentious about it and Dickson integrates her practice with low-brow references in a way that’s fun for everyone. Depicting internet culture and Instagram-age celebrities through art is an interesting concept that may have some traditionalists foaming at the mouth, but Dickson’s continued preoccupation with cult figures like Madonna and Pamela Anderson demonstrates a playful exploration and a desire to poke fun at a society that’s increasingly immersed in online platforms and social media, as our perception of fame, identity, and self-presentation undergoes a TikTok-adjacent transformation. Like it or not, these characters are key cultural icons in the 21st-century landscape and if the discourse demands we give them airtime, why shouldn’t they make their way into the world of art? By capturing the essence of internet culture and depicting these contemporary icons, Dickson commemorates the complexities of our celeb obsession and the media circus that surrounds it.

Ruby Dickson, ‘Maybe my fairy-tale has a different ending than I dreamed it would. But that’s OK.’, solo exhibition at NıCOLETTı, London, 2024. Photo: Jack Elliot Edwards.