[This show will be running consecutively with Redd Walitzki’s “When We Break.” Preview HERE]
To read about Pittsburgh‘s Andy Kehoe on his official site, you would come across such fictionalized accounts as, “Andy Kehoe was the son of a sea merchant that was killed by pirates when he was just three years old,” “A long time ago, Andy Kehoe resided in a dark forest outside a small village in Romania where he fed on the blood of children, goats and the occasional lamb-stuffed potato, accompanied with a robust glass of wine” and a tale about him being a reckless loose cannon of a motorcycle stuntman firing live ammo into the air, as well as a handful of real-world anecdotes about him being verbally attacked by random strangers on the street. The truth of the matter is that Kehoe is a painter by trade, a profession that has afforded him an outlet to translate his imagination in a much more abstract fashion, creating otherworldly landscapes and a collection of uniquely mystifying creatures that reside within them.
Terms such as “fantasy,” “whimsical,” or even “child-like” are incredibly common for people to toss around when attempting to describe Kehoe‘s work, but I personally feel that they seem far too easy to employ and even somewhat dismissive of what he actually does. It’s true that there is technically a major element of “fantasy” involved, since the artist is depicting figures and environments that were previously confined solely to his imagination, but while there are aspects that may summon up feelings of “childhood,” that should never be confused with the work being “childish.” The implication that imagination itself should be restricted to childhood, alone, is beyond ridiculous. The elements that do harken back to the aesthetic of storybooks that I was drawn to as a child could be most closely likened to the works of artists like the late Maurice Sendak, whose illustrations, even then, were impressive to me for the exceptional detail and care that were put into literature for children. Of course, Sendak himself stated that he never felt like he was writing childrens books at all, but rather books that they simply happened to connect to. And just like Maurice, Andy‘s paintings transcend any age restrictions or this physical plane all together; they reach through to something much deeper and enigmatic. It often seems as, if an artwork is not photo realistic or strictly conceptual, then it can be easily reduced to something less “serious.” And maybe Kehoe‘s work fits that bill in certain respects, but the emotional territories that he’s been able to approach are very real.
A couple of years back, Andy Kehoe began employing a new technique in the creation of his paintings, which has (literally) provided them with even more dimension. Using multiple layers of resin and painting onto those separate layers between adding each following coat, he’s been able to experiment with the depth-of-field, truly placing his figures within the environments that they are surrounded by and heightening that interplay between them. By incorporating this method with a remarkable skill for emulating swirling celestial backdrops, haunting colorful skylines, ominous hovering mist, and delicate interlocking clouds, Kehoe paints atmospheres, first and foremost, creating entire worlds that are 100% his own. The images feel new and refreshing, yet comforting, as if they’ve always existed. He understands this world so well that, even when there’s a semi-unsettling air of the unknown involved, there is also a certain level of comfort in something so foreign that organically seems to make so much sense. Maybe it’s the fact that Andy‘s already been forced to define his own cultural identity in our everyday world, as the product of a union between a Korean and an Irish/German, which nurtures the world represented through his paintings. Maybe it’s even my own existence as a Puerto Rican/Jewish man that can be attributed to why I’ve been able to so easily find a connection to them.
Regardless of how or why Andy Kehoe‘s work exists, it’s definitely something that needs to be experienced up close. Those of you who will be in the Seattle area between this Thursday June 5th and Saturday the 28th will have a chance to catch his latest exhibit of new paintings “Inner Mystic” at Roq La Rue. Don’t miss it.
Here’s a little something from the press release
Kehoe will be showing a series new works, both paintings as well as 3d pieces that are composed of both painted and sculpted elements embedded in resin, creating a piece with a flat surface, but imbued with depth and dimension… Of the new series, Kehoe says:
“I love creating a world steeped in mystery and mysticism, and it’s really up the the viewer to give any power or resonance. If there’s any magic to be found in my work, it stems from with in the individual viewer and their own desire to lose themselves in imagination, if only for a moment. One of the most gratifying aspects to my work is that people tend to relate their own stories and personal experiences to my imagery. In the most successful cases, I’m sharing a connection with someone through my work, and they’re creating their own personal mysticism and mythology in relation to mine. Another aspect I wanted to portray, was that the creatures are often molded from the inert mysticism of their environment. In some of the pieces, I made the characters as silhouettes, with their bodies being composed of the world around them.”
Check out the preview images for the exhibit below the following event details…
Roq La Rue Presents “Inner Mystic“ – New Painting by Andy Kehoe
Opening: Thursday, June 5th, 2014 6pm-9pm
Roq La Rue Gallery 532 1st Ave S. Seattle, Wa 98104
Opening is ALL AGES w/NO COVER
Exhibit will be on view until June 28th, 2014.
The gallery is open from 1 – 6pm from Wednesday – Saturday.
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/637923249634883/
[click images to enlarge]