With the luster and feel of polished ivory, Robert Kelly’s second exhibition of paintings for AR/Contemporary Art celebrate a masterful abstraction of unusual materials, among them vintage posters and sheets of archival newsprint. Rich with a density of saturated color and hue, visually tactile to an extraordinary degree, Kelly’s recent work demonstrates an awareness of the influence of artists as disparate and widely admired as Malevich, Piero della Francesca, Leger, Masaccio and Mondrian. These recent works appear in the present, graced with an awareness of that historic past, a means to an understanding of the artist’s empathy with the viewer, realized through the meticulous refinement of the making of art.
Through 25 years of cobbling materials together Kelly understands his work as an essential point of departure. With rich overlays of paint and glaze, the works are at once neutral and seductive, each with a compelling sensibility and a distinctive voice of their own. Mysterious, sensual and serene these paintings are extraordinary for their strength and refinement. The images that find their way into Kelly’s work and become part of its formal abstraction were collected during the artist’s travels and residencies worldwide, informed with the history of those passages.