James Kennedy "Moodscapes” Interview

Focused on SCOPE Art Show in Miami, New York based James Kennedy has created a new body of “moodscape” paintings that are sure to attract lovers of modern contemporary.

Applying generous washes of color to the surfaces of his paintings, James Kennedy approaches his work arbitrarily often looking for intersections, erecting essential forms in a balanced design while creating rhythmic patterns. There is a discriminating division of space uncovering a language comparable to detailed architectural plans or spatial arrangements of land while traveling through the sky high above.

In preparation for this article and the upcoming flight to Art Basel Miami, I thought this quote by Samuel M. Kootz, (1898—1982 The first to show the Abstract Expressionist painters as a school in NY, pictured above with Pablo Picasso), was appropriate:

“The modern artist, in turning to abstraction, desires to create an independent organism having its own being, its own equilibrium, which becomes a self-sufficient symbol rather than a duplication of an already existent image. He no longer seeks an approximation of nature.”

mM : Much of your work centers itself upon a consistent theme of “Moodscapes” or representational grids that represent patterns found. Please share a few thoughts about your approach to the work.

JAMES : I have always been intrigued by abstraction in landscape and how the light and dark within a painting impact a viewer emotionally. I suppose the color-fields prevalent in my current work were addressed subconsciously in the early “moodscape” paintings where I explored the horizon line...it's height and weight and most importantly the blend and merge to depth of field leading the eye to darkness, infinity and hopefully inspiring ones own "inner landscapes." (Above, Telegraph, 51x63" Mixed Media on Incised Masonite, 2009).

mM : Describe how the Constructivist movement and artists of the past have influenced the development of color, texture and spatial relationships found in your work.

JAMES : Sometimes I am guilty of giving the Constructivists too much credit as much of the work in its early explorations could have been better described as complimenting British post cubists and the Bauhaus painters. When you read into the constant re-grouping of the art-movements of that period is was a pretty amazing era in regard to radical thought and manifestation of the art-world doctrines celebrated back in the day. My earlier works in the Spatial series played more with dissections of space, bolder color schemes and were most probably Constructivist “derivative." When you look at my paintings closely it's as much about the construct as it is about the content. I suppose in that respect it embraces the love of and close attention to "craft" which was more of a Bauhaus model. (Above, Bridge, 27x51" Mixed Media on Masonite, 2011).

mM : Please describe the inspiration and your approach to your featured pieces at SCOPE Art Show — Retrorhapsodie (Above) and Fly Bi Wire.

As I was working on the Miami paintings I was thinking strongly about components. My Father was always obsessed by machinery and the mechanics of things and so I think the inner workings and science of objects has always fascinated me. (Above, Machinal, 60x60" Mixed Media on Incised Masonite, 2010).

FLY BI WIRE (above) is imbued with thoughts of flight and open space the constantly changing aerodynamic structure of a modern jet-wing but the same time hinting at materials of an earlier era in flight...wood and canvas.

Retrorhapsodie alludes to the aesthetic of the Art Nouveau . . . Hector Guimard (French, 1867—1942) and the French subway (pictured above) . . . the forms evident in the ceramics and furniture of that time.

mM : Your work presents a sense of movement: combining color washes, engraved/etched lines scribed into the fabric of the painting, a build up of the layers of paint, and the placement of shapes in relationship to each other. Describe a little bit of the unspoken narrative that you present within your work.

Featured in the Miami series of works I titled a painting "Dilution Diagram" and I think I had a kind of epiphany with that work. I suddenly realized that what was drawing people into my spaces was the said same light and shade I alluded to within my landscapes. The light and shade in this respect is directly proportionate to the thickness of media sitting on the surface of the masonite. So the dilution is in control of how much background is revealed and for me that is the most important part of my paintings . . . the "landscape" —the tonal changes across the surface. I guess you could say that is the emotional side of the paintings and the application of gesture and positioning of the non-specific foreground graphics is the whimsical and less serious aspect. (Above, Dilution Diagram, 64x64" Mixed Media on Incised Masonite, 2011).

mM : What are some of the themes you are pursuing in your work in 2012 and when is your next exhibition.

JAMES : From a mathematical perspective the possibilities in the "Spatial" series are infinite so I will continue to explore this as a graphic language. I also want to get back to creating more visceral surfaces and incorporate those. Time to explore my drawings would be most welcome. (Above, Blueprint to an Open Sky, 60x60" Mixed Media on Incised Masonite, 2009).

Fortunately or unfortunately, I have a low boredom threshold so my studio practice is in constant morph-mode. I will have a solo show with Mindy Solomon Gallery in August 2012 inter-dispersed are group exhibits in and around New York, one at the newly opened gallery at the 1stDibs space on Lexington. Most importantly I want some time away for thought and introspection, plans are in the works. (Above, Suspension Rig, 63x63" Mixed Media on Incised Wood, 2009).

Thanks to James Kennedy for taking time out to introduce his new body of work exhibiting at SCOPE Art Show, with the Mindy Solomon Gallery located at Booth 21 November 29—Dcember 4, 2011. Stay tuned for more artist articles from Miami, Art Basel—now in its tenth year.

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