Callan Contemporary
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Press Release

April 3rd - May 25th, 2013

Reception April 6th 6-9 PM


Like the fabled “music of the spheres” that enchanted medieval philosophers, the sublime geometries of James Kennedy’s systems embody a perfected sense of balance, order, and harmony. Working with mixed media on eucalyptis-wood Masonite, Kennedy applies layer upon layer of thinned-out acrylic paint, building up the washes to impart a texturally sensual, chromatically nuanced surface. Then, using blades and other tools, he incises lines into the paint and, more deeply, the panels themselves. The deeper lines cast subtle shadows, adding to the surfaces’ topographical character. Pinpoint dots, another visual trademark, lend further texturality and heighten the series’ architectonic feel.

Born in Northern Ireland and educated in painting at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, Kennedy now lives in Manhattan. His work has been exhibited widely, featured in major art fairs, and acquired into prestigious collections around the world. His paintings at Callan Contemporary are part of an ongoing series called SPATIAL, in which mathematical and musical elements come together in invigorating equipoise. Highly sophisticated and meticulous in technique, the works flow from a decidedly improvisational approach. “For all of their organized scheme, there’s actually no pre-planning,” the artist relates. “They aren’t complete until there is a balance to the spatial resolution of the painting, where every line and gesture is somehow in harmony, and the piece is held together no matter how complex it is.”

The exhibition’s title derives from the “systems” Kennedy creates to resolve compositional relationships. Notably, the lines, shapes, and proportions that make his paintings so visually gratifying, serve a purpose that is both formal and expressive. He views each element, in a sense, as an individual or character in an overarching narrative, which he calls “the journey of the line.” It is a narrative that unfolds not in words, but in the reductivist language of abstraction. Elegant, intricate, and conceptually rich, Kennedy’s works invite viewers into a contemplative inner space, in which serene forms engage one another in spirited, dynamic interchange.