Jeff Kellar: Paintings and Sculptures, an exhibition of new two- and
three-dimensional artwork, will be on display February 21 through March 21
at William Campbell Contemporary Art. The gallery will host an opening
reception on Saturday, February 21, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. The show will
include pieces from two of Kellar's most recent bodies of work, the Blocks
and Glimpse series. With a focus on pure visual elements, Kellar examines
not only how his non-referential art behaves within a prescribed space, but
also how it interacts with viewers both collectively and individually. "I'm
interested in the way emotions are affected by the perception of space," he
says, "emotions created by one's awareness of existing in physical space and
consciousness of that act of perception."
Blocks features abstract geometric paintings accompanied by smaller wooden
cube sculptures that echo the hard edges and color palettes of their
two-dimensional counterparts. The nonrepresentational pieces conjure a
broad, universal aesthetic as they carve out both positive and negative
space within their surroundings. The absence of diagonals creates visual
stability, underscoring what the artist calls an "economy of line and space."
The Blocks paintings-or constructions-consist of aluminum panels coated in
layers of a clay resin/pigment mixture. The layers are then polished, incised,
and buffed, producing the illusory depth of field and perception play that
Kellar continually seeks. Such spatial considerations extend into his cube
sculptures, which are constructed of wood and covered in the same resin as
the paintings. Of the relationship between the two media, he remarks: "The
sculptural quality of the [two-dimensional] surface...connects these paintings
to the methods that I use in my three-dimensional work. The thinness of the
panel and the way the panel floats on the wall are two sculptural aspects
that are important to me."
Distilled down to shape, line, and color like the Blocks paintings, Kellar's
Glimpse series narrows the focus for a less universal and more intimate
examination of the immediate space. Flashes of pigment, offered as if the
viewer is looking through a fence or a set of blinds, hint at a potential
narrative. Additionally, the contrasting striations play with viewer
perception: Are we inside or outside the scene? Are we participants or voyeurs?
As Kellar describes it, his art "explores the relationships between illusion
and materiality." What initially appear to be slick, minimalist pieces are
actually heavily manipulated assemblages. Paintings straddle the line between
two and three dimensions, as carefully applied strata of medium take on a
dynamic quality, protruding and receding to evoke the illusion of depth atop
the flat surface. The block sculptures further punctuate the physicality of
the work, complementing the paintings in shape and color, while also creating
a visual and physical anchor. Situated entirely in the same space as the
viewer, they reinforce the artist's awareness of and interest in the myriad
effects of space on art and onlooker. Every aspect of Kellar's art
informs-and is informed by-the area it occupies.
He explains: "In locating yourself geographically people talk of triangulation.
Two points form a line; three points place the line in space. In a similar way,
the two dimensions of this flat painting connect with the viewer to extend the
illusionary space of the painting to the real space of the gallery and to
place the viewer in that space... It is almost like connecting the dots. You
connect the dots to form the space."
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A highly acclaimed painter and sculptor for more than two decades, Jeff Kellar
has exhibited work across the United States, including venues in New York,
Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, Philadelphia, and
San Francisco, as well as throughout his home state of Maine. A recipient of
numerous prizes and awards, most recently, he won the coveted Adolf and Esther
Gottlieb Individual Support Grant in 2014. Additional awards include the
Purchase Prize at the Portland Museum of Art's 2007 Maine Biennial and a
Good Idea Grant in Digital Printmaking from the Maine Arts Commission in 2005.
Kellar's art has been featured in many publications, among them THE magazine,
Sculpture magazine,the Boston Sunday Herald, the Portland Press Herald/Maine
Sunday Telegram, the Philadelphia Inquirer,and the Portland Phoenix. His work
also appears in a recent book titled Maine Art New by Edgar Allen Beem, as well
as in the 2007 Main Biennial exhibition catalog published by the Portland
Museum of Art.
Kellar's paintings appear in various collections, including those of the
Portland Museum of Art, the University of Maine, the Maine Department of
Conservation, and Microsoft, among others. He has taught at the University of
Maine at Farmington and at the Haystack School of Crafts, and has held several
artist-in-residence positions. He also served for two years on the Maine Arts
Commission Advisory Panel.
Jeff Kellar received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and has also
studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the Fleisher Memorial
Art Institute in Philadelphia.