A monograph that imitates a jewelry catalogue, dedicated to Kelley's most recent body of works.
“Memory Ware”, “Wood Grain”, “Carpet” : These three techniques, already
experimented with by Kelley in the past, are brought together in this
luxurious publication in a number of variations. Kelley consciously
presents a nexus of works whose uniform surface treatment, and manner
of presentation, inevitably evokes modernist painting history.
All three techniques – “Memory Ware”, “Wood Grain”, and “Carpet” – reveal
a concern with theories of composition and color associated with the
history of modernist painting. Kelley works with retrieval and reuse,
operating on multiple levels. He explores and excavates, starting from his
own productions. Once again, these are configured as a cosmogony with a
complex system of relations or, pushing the metaphor further, as a
hydraulic system in which nothing is lost – all is retrieved and channeled
without so much as a single drop being dispersed or failing to find its way
out into its correct affluent.
Popularly known as the master of exercises in garbage style, Kelley is in
reality Mr. Clean. He situates his output within a wider system, that of
recent modernist art history, appropriating modernism's structures,
acting from within, but without exercising the appropriational coldness
common to the gestures of many American artists of his generation. In
this way he proclaims himself as the last representative of the avant-garde
– a true aesthetic revolutionary.
Mike Kelley (1954-2012) was an artist and writer based in Los Angeles. He was the curator of the exhibition The Uncanny
(1993/2004), and his writings, edited by John C. Welchman
, were published in two volumes by MIT Press in 2004.