POWER FIGURES

Greg Kessler | Brian McClear | Karen Shaw | Michelle Thomas | Lisa Warren

West Gallery | March 13 – May 30, 2020

  • GREG KESSLER
  • BRIAN MCCLEAR
  • KAREN SHAW
  • MICHELLE THOMAS
  • LISA WARREN

After Party:" In these works, I drew cartoony, abstract, and more naturalistic portraits. Then I sliced them in half and collaged them. Then I used these as sketches to paint from. The After Party title refers to a post party- where perhaps our Apollonian and Dionysius sides conflict/ collide. "
 
BIO
Greg Kessler is a NY-based artist and curator with more than 20 years of active studio experience, delving into oil paintings, prints and drawings.  A graduate of Yale (MFA) and Carnegie Mellon (BFA) Universities, Kessler has exhibited his works in solo shows across New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C. and Texas.  In 2013, his works were part of the opening exhibit at the Inside Out Museum in Beijing. He has done residencies in Austria and Turkey.

Greg Kessler is also a Teaching Artist at Vermont College of Fine Arts. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Printmaking at Columbia University and has also taught at the City University of New York. He has lectured at New York Academy of Art, New York University, Massachusetts College of Art and Concordia University in Montreal. 

Once relegated to sailors, combat veterans, and the counter culture, tattoos have become ubiquitous. Whether to commemorate a life event, to satisfy an impulse, to make a bold statement, or as a private talisman, the reasons for getting a tattoo are as varied as the people themselves.

This series of portraits explores men and women of all ages and walks of life that have chosen this form of self-expression. Free spirits. Police officers. Bikers. Musicians. Preachers. Punks. Veterans. These portraits seek to capture a gesture and mood that provide additional insights into the subject’s personality beyond their art. Simply put, canvases of people who are themselves canvases.

In a process I call SUMMANTICS I designate a numerical equivalent to each letter of the alphabet according to its position:  A=1, B=2, C=3 to Z=26.  A word is “spelled” out numerically and added to reach the sum of the word.  Consider the number 33.  It is the sum of MEAN=13+5+1+14=33 or ALAS=1+12+1+19=33 as well as ALIBI, ILL, MAGIC and BOLD to mention a few.

In the series called BODY LANGUAGE, East meets West in a conflation of SUMMANTICS with Acupuncture; a system on a system.  I use the actual numerical points shown on Chinese acupuncture charts drawn on various body parts.  I skewer words of the same numerical value on long, graceful acupuncture needles that vibrate with elemental poetry.

This current body of work represents my personal journey of looking back on life, retracing historical events and individual experiences to glean knowledge of self. No matter how painful looking at our collective past is, there exists an extreme benefit to learning from mistakes and misfortunes to change the course of the future. The human story may, at times, be wrought with injustice, discontent and outright hatred yet our resilient spirit rises above and overcomes all obstacles. My mission is to encourage healing in this hurting world. As we journey back, we can reunite with spirit, taking us to the very source of existence where all knowledge and wisdom reside, manifesting the necessary energy for forgiveness and healing in order to change the world and ourselves.
 
As a visual artist, I feel passionate about creating with a responsibility to visually offer artwork that adds to the landscape of healing. This research project concludes the necessity of infusing the African descent community with images and stories of empowerment to create a climate of unity and love to become the standard for a lasting legacy. Visual information is significant in shaping opinions. Positive images are imperative and extremely powerful to help people of African descent gain a self-identity of love, respect, and dignity.
 
While my concentration is painting, I am a multi-media artist uniting oil, acrylic, watercolor, pen & ink, printmaking and ceramics into a language speaking boldly on subject matter and theme.
I osculate between tight rendering and loose brushwork while infusing bold collage components. Emerging on the surface is an exciting array of aesthetic elements manifesting harmony and balance. No matter the subject, my goal is to illuminate the essence of layered complexities in one visual experience. Art production is a cycle of challenges and solutions making way for personal expression.

My interest in portraits stems from a love of painting, psychology and poetry. I paint those around me—most recently I’ve concentrated on my family. I take photographs as “sketches” for the portraits. My staged sittings of family and friends involve taking hundreds of photographs to align the body just right, or make suggestions for facial expressions. Our familiarity helps to relax all of us while in a sense these people are actors. I then search through the images and discover facial or body expressions that inspire. My observations of the individuals serve as a means to explore something within my imagination, and fuel the intensity that I hope to instill within each painting. As part of this practice, I spend days or weeks collecting patterns; fabrics and textiles as reference materials before ever painting in the studio I collage and distort patterned space using shape, color and light. My wish is to create autobiographical paintings of daily life that express my perceptions of those around me. This personal exploration serves as both a diary and documentation of the times in which my friends and family occupy.

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