James Kennedy: Where art meets architecture (and a lot of blue tape)

VIDEO: ChelseaGallerista interviews James Kennedy in his studio (2:55 min)

"I go through a tone of blue tape. It takes almost as long to mask up a painting as to paint it."

James Kennedy is my latest favorite "local" artist.

I say favorite, because I love practically every piece on his website. Flipping through his work is like looking through a kaleidoscope of color, line, form and some pretty deep cuts with an Exacto knife.

I say "local," because I stumbled across him as normally I would, doing my Thursday night rounds of Chelsea gallery openings (when I can get out of work on time).

I think I must have spent at least an hour or more in his modest workroom on a high floor in a Chelsea artists' labyrinth, going from painting to painting and back again, mesmerized by the studied surface treatment of sharp cuts, raised dots and crackled textures and wonderful jigsaw-like pieces of pure color. The word "architecture" springs to mind. You can almost reach out touch the concrete dust and alabaster and brushed steel and high wires. In fact, he recently exhibited at an architecture expo, and his work can be seen in an interior design store called Nest.

So then, is this merely decorative, "furniture" art you might ask? I say nyet. Furniture art is like a curtain, a backdrop where the sofa and lamp what ever else is flanking the picture become part of the scene - your eye rests on briefly on the whole room composition before it fades into the background and the TV takes over.

James' work demands much more mental involvment, especially if you venture up close - and you must. Your eyes move over and around his shapes, diving into the incisions and cracks and drop-offs. It's absorbing, active viewing. Hey, and he experiments with such a giant palette, there's bound to be one that matches your ottoman!

These two are definitely "architectural."
James hails from Northern Ireland. His previous lives were dancing and acting. This year he was given a boost when selected as the KiptonART Rising 2011 Winner - an art initiative founded by art patron and entrepreneur Kipton Kronkite (and with a name like that ...).

To date, his work been exhibited largely in the Hamptons, that far-flung part of New York City for wealthy people with houses by the beach.

But rather than parrot-phrase, I encourage you to watch my video interview.

"I used to do these small [size of a sushi plate - LC] paintings but they take almost as much time as the big ones."

James Kennedy Online

Popular posts from this blog

Art Basel Miami: A first-timer's guidebook

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: It's time to collect!

Street Art in West Chelsea: alive and ungentrified