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KENNEDY

20121117152850-james_kennedy-weights_measures-52_22x_40_22-mixed_media_on_icised_masonite-2012

Birthplace
Ireland

Birth year
1962

Lives in
Manhattan

Works in
Long Island City

Website

Tags
abstract

Statement

JAMES KENNEDY

Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, Kennedy has been a resident in the US since 2003.

Educated in the UK and Ireland with a Bachelor of Arts from the Royal Scottish

Academy and an additional two Post Graduate diplomas in choreography and architectural design.

In 2006 he co-founded Surface Library Atelier + Gallery with ceramist Bob Bachler.

Their studios are now located in Long Island City.

 

Statement

Much of the artist’s early work is rooted in landscape and its various abstractions. Since 2007 he

has been exploring the placement of shape and form within those pre-existing frameworks. From

this exploration the “Spatial” series originated followed shortly thereafter by “Architectures and

Choreographies”.

These paintings address a fascination with essential structures and arrangements, whilst exploring

the linguistics of music, mathematics, dance and architecture. Pattern recognition and manipulation

are common themes, and involve the resolution of space within his own abstract vocabulary, in

essence, solving spatial equations through paint. The layouts are not premeditated, but affected by

the colorfields serendipitously formed in the background washes. It is the considered dissection of

these tonal zones that builds the core structure of each work.

Represented by :

Mindy Solomon Gallery, St Petersburg. Melissa Morgan, Palm Desert

Art Bridge, London Galerie Werner, Pittsburgh

Corporate Clients and Collectors include:

Mahinder Tak, Henri Barguirdjian, Judy Linhart, Barbara Barry, Edward Albee, Sisti Collection,

Vivaldi Partners, David Scott, Frederick Schmeltzer, Corcoran, Saatchi + Saatchi

 

Forthcoming exhibits :        "Balance"  Jeffrey Leder Gallery 

                                                  “ Constructions and Compositions “ ,  Mindy Solomon Gallery

                                                    Art Miami 2012, December 4th

                                                   "A Fine Line - Kennedy and Koenigsberg" at the Flinn Gallery in Greenwich ,

                                                    opening March 2013.

.

Spaces for the Mind and Eye       by Miranda McClintic

Written for the debut of Architectures + Choreographies Scope Miami 2012

The paintings of James Kennedy are intriguing, dignified, and beautifully crafted.

Formal but never predicable, their subject is space. With training in modern art,

dance, and architectural design, he has created a personal language of form

and color. Kennedy’s approach is both deliberate and intuitive. He

experiments with painting materials, choreographs relationships among

eccentric hard-edged shapes, and builds diagrams of incised lines and small

black dots to achieve complex surface and spatial interactions.

As well described by the artist, “these paintings address a fascination with

essential structures and arrangements, whilst exploring the linguistics of music,

mathematics, dance and architecture. Pattern recognition and manipulation are

common themes, and involve the resolution of space within my own abstract

vocabulary, in essence, solving spatial equations through paint.”

Neither representational nor referential, Kennedy’s paintings are exactingly

specific in appearance and endlessly suggestive in affect.

Kennedy’s complex process results in a rich visual experience that is orderly,

balanced, and rhythmic. Human in scale, with dimensions such as 64 x 64, 37

x 60, 64 x 52 inches, they are comfortably approachable. The white or black

2

frames and over-layer of varnish emphasize the physicality of the painting, but

the forms remain elusive, never coalescing into a single identifiable picture.

The paintings remain engaging because they are based on four apparent and

interdependent systems of image making. Their character reflects the unique

process of their making rather than a preexisting idea or external object.

James Kennedy sees himself in the artistic traditions of both alchemist and

master craftsman. With no preliminary drawings, he begins by covering

masonite with washes of acrylic paint. The backgrounds are customarily a

mixture of titanium white, medium gray, titanium buff, and yellow ochre. Next,

Kennedy seamlessly applies emulsions, glazing, and scraping to build up

individual planes. Varying hues, tints and values of tertiary colors are subtly

modulated by density of pigment, dilution, and overlay to create a tonal

structure across the surface. The absence of visible brushstrokes gives each

work an ethereal quality.

Kennedy’s distinctive palette features ochre over azurite, sienna and medium

orange over ochre, raw umber and graphite powder over white, cerulean and

manganese blues, and gray greens made up of medium grays, green oxide, buff

and terra verde. The blacks that provide dramatic incidents throughout the

composition are often mixed with deep violet to increase their intensity. These

unrealistic colors are used to define non-repetitive shapes and spaces that are,

alternatively, linear, curved, jagged, and straight edged.

Knowledgeable about the art of the past and his own history, Kennedy says that

the color and blending techniques that he developed to modulate dark and light

in his Moodscape series (2006-2009) help him create the “tonal space” that his

“systems inhabit.” He explains that “the serendipitous convergence of space,

color, and the lines that dissect them, form the core structure of the work.”

Perfectly straight lines are scored (in keeping with the artist’s interest in dance

notation) into the masonite, creating trajectories and constellations whose

patterns complement, complicate and enliven the arrangement of colored

shapes. The lines serve as edges that redefine the painted forms, create

architectural scaffolding, and provide directional energy.

Precise vector dots of black gouache, acrylic and varnish are added at the end.

These accents multiply the relationships among the colored planes and incised

lines, as well as creating rhythmic signals that lead the eye across the

composition. The light touch and relatively random placement of the dots

provides a relief from the obsessive cuts into the masonite.

All of James Kennedy’s recent paintings are based on these four systems,

articulated differently in terms of color, surface, spatiality, regularity, complexity,

4

density, geometry, and tone. Positive and negative space, as well as light and

dark are evenly distributed. .

Sum of Parts is comprehensive in revealing Kennedy’s means of handling paint

through overlap, scraping, solid pigment, and veils of color. Different kinds of

distinct shapes, painted lines, nebulous space, and unexpected colors are

carefully displayed, horizontally and vertically. There is little regularity of

arrangement, but an asymmetrical balance is maintained with the disparate

notations and painterly passages.

Several works that share a basic palette of greys and browns – highlighted with

white and black – reveal the impressive range of Kennedy’s language. In

Reciprocal Arrangement, the curvilinear shapes at first seem to dominate the

rectangular, the lighter larger areas of pinkish tan look more prominent than the

dark, light and medium grey planes bordering them, and the painted horizontal

lines are more obvious than the incised vertical lines, but, over time, you see

that all these elements mutually determine the space Kennedy has constructed.

Multiple levels of paint give spatial depth and color resonance, while glazing

brightens paint that is more thinly applied. Dilution Diagram is a virtuoso

demonstration of flowing tonality, syncopated by curvilinear silhouetted forms

that echo one another like shadows.

5

Kennedy explains: “The light and shade in this respect are directly proportionate

to the thickness of media sitting on the

surface of the masonite. So the dilution is in control of how much background is

revealed, and for me that is the most important

part of my paintings....the "landscape," the tonal changes across the surface

….[This is] the emotional side of the paintings, and the application of gesture

and positioning of the non-specific foreground graphics is the whimsical and

less serious aspect.”

In Flybywire, which is a vertical rectangle rather than a square, the incised lines

hold attenuated forms in a state of suspended animation. Upper Level

Hierarchy is a spatial construct that is blocked off in the center by five horizontal

planks of opaque paint. This work, which was made after the death of

Kennedy’s father, is measured and meditative, where Dilution Diagram is witty

and Flybywire is daring in spirit.

Telegraph and Blue Print to an Open Sky are the most high key of James

Kennedy’s 2011 works, constructed of mostly rectangular planes, thin irregular

lines and hard-edged flat shapes. In Telegraph, transparent and opaque layers

of aqua and grey suggest depth, anchored by strips of red, brown, white and

black spread out at measured intervals across the surface. These are joined

and dissected by the incised lines that, in turn, are punctuated by painted dots.

The space vibrates with the play of forms in space like the crackle of a telegraph

6

message through the air. Blueprint to an Open Sky – blue, grey, black and white

-- is more architectural, with angular shapes and schematic linear elements

framing, in a disjointed fashion, a rhomboid of aqua reminiscent of a view from a

window.

Retro Rhapsody is bold and expansive in off-key green, puce, mauve, olive,

ochre, steel blue, four shades of tan, and eight greys. It has the widest variety

of curvilinear and geometric planes, quirky linear details, a plethora of vector

dots and scored lines that are curved, as well as straight, going in all directions.

The artist says that the painting “alludes to the aesthetic of Art Nouveau,” but it

also attests to the exuberance of its invention and execution.

James Kennedy’s paintings are suggestive not definitive. They are not intended

to convey particular information, nor look like anything but themselves. Created

by imagination and technical artistry, these spaces for the mind exist as

independent presences for visual contemplation.

There are many kinds of abstraction, removed at different degrees of separation

from external reality. Looking at James Kennedy’s work, I am reminded of a

statement by Wassily Kandinsky “Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most

difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened

sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last

is essential."

.

 

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