Me The People
By creating works in which the canvas seems to expand indefinitely in all directions, merging and eventually surrendering its autonomy to the paint itself, Erika Keck's work challenges the notion of prescribed media specificity.
Rather than simply engaging in a redundant and repetitive task, Keck takes on the reign of an army of possibilities, perverting, warping and playing with, the act of painting. During this process, the artist feels her way through what she knows and feels. Effectively pushing her work more into the faculty of reception than that of the power of invention, her inspired and possessed paintings come closer to an abstract language, independent of logical meaning.
In some of the paintings, Keck does away with canvas and stretcher bars altogether. Color is not just on the surface, it is the surface. The color, the surface and the painting are one. Sheets of paint fold and drape as they will, allowing the paint to take on unexpected sculptural qualities. The knowledge gained through direct physical engagement, reasserts painting's potential to open a space of speculation, intuition and analysis. Other paintings are more about traditional techniques of creating illusion, color and composition. Together, both approaches underscore a method of deconstruction that, at times, turn the work into a puzzle piece that finds itself inside of a larger installation.
The artist's investigation into the increasing role of such trades as selfishness, self-centeredness, self-importance and self-righteousness, led to a number of drawings that lie at the foundation of this exhibition. 'We the people...,' in a twist, became 'me the people.' and Walt Whitman's 'Leaves of Grass' was turned into 'Leaves of Crass'. Every word on the first page of the book was blacked out except 'I' which, according to the artist, dominated the text.
The drawings, which are formal and analytical, are in sharp contrast with Keck's expressionist, abstract paintings. She pushes herself to have different, seemingly contradictory, modes of thinking exist together, aiming for the tension that results from forcing opposites to co-exist.
The densely layered body of work, eliciting a wide range of emotions, rises from Erika Keck's respect for the history of painting and her deep love for the act of painting. Throughout, there is the balance of touch and composition, color and structure, material and content, weight and joy.