“I put it out there (as) an open-ended statement, like a question. It just is”, Kersels told the LA Times in 2008. “It just is”. The work in his current solo show, Passionista, at ACME gallery is a case in point. His series of drawings, featuring images of human skeletons overlapped by images of the natural world (i.e. galaxies, spider webs), ask the viewer not only to make profound connections between external and internal environments, but to think of the scope of what is “out there”. Beyond “otherworldliness”, Kersels’s drawings speak of “inner-worldliness”; the quiet mysteries of the spaces inside the body and their likeness to “the great unknown” of the universe.
Something that all of the work does have in common is its corporality. Either literally or figuratively the work uses the human body as a reference point. From the focus on skeletons (the structure of the human body) to the mimicking of its shape (use of furniture, as in the piece Chaircrow), physicality, as always, is a key feature of Kernels’ work.
Kernels’ new works retain something else of his earlier works: its use of popular culture. The show includes a table of merchandise, half of the proceeds of which will be donated to the Gibbon Conservation Center, overflowing with t-shirts drawn on with sharpie, Starbucks espresso cans, polaroids, and magazines. The presence of the merchandise table criticizes popular culture by pointing out/poking fun at its vices (i.e. “urine and ginseng” written on MONSTER energy drink bottle) yet acknowledges every person’s (including the artist himself) participation in it.
Kersels is current co-director of CalArts’ Program of Art. His work resides in permanent collections including MoMA, LACMA, MOCA Los Angeles, and The J. Paul Getty Museum. In 2008 the Guggenheim Award recipient’s work was the subject of a widely acclaimed one-man show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, Heavyweight Champion.
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