Robert Kelly, the artist interview for Rosemont Art Advisory

Rosemont Art Advisory was pleased to interview Robert Kelly, contemporary american artist based in New York.
This interview is part of series of artist interview, released every month in our newsletter.

As an introduction, could you please tell us more about your story? What’s your background in the arts, how did you become an artist and what’s leads you to New York and Santa Fe?

If art can be deemed the muse of memory, I can certainly state that it is what gives cohesion to the puzzled pieces of my narrative. My earliest memories growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico center on my evolving artist relationships with the people associated with creative thinking there. The landscape of New Mexico is rich with a mythic, parched landscape, Old World folkloric undertones, iconic figures in the literary and artistic traditions like Georgia O’Keefe and D.H Lawrence; all this rubbed off on me like gold dust.

After majoring in the Arts at Harvard and working as a photographer for Polaroid, I moved to New York in the early 1980’s where the cultural zeitgeist of the artworld held such prominent sway on practicing artists in the form of community, disciplined practice, conceptual rigor, and a growing contemporary art market. It was an obvious place to extend myself fully into the arts as a profession, and to realize that it was the vehicle to filter life’s experiences.

You’re the contemporary American artist who has travelled throughout the United States, Europe, North Africa, the Near East, and Nepal. Your work often incorporates unusual materials from your journeys, among them vintage posters and printed antique paper, obscured and layered in saturated pigments on a canvas faintly scored with irregular grids. Where do you find inspiration, and who are your main influencers?

Travel, besides being a joy in and of itself, brings one in touch with the unfamiliar, rejuvenates the eye, and frees one to search for what moves oneself outside the reach of the habitual. This is where I have educated myself in art history having visited countless museums, churches, monasteries, galleries, and art fairs throughout the world, and been inspired and drawn to the tangible residue of history found in old world cultures. The Romanesque period with its distilled and poetic sensibilities plays heavily into the pared down formalism and layered history of my own work.

Which works would you suggest to see to a visitor who has only a limited time to see your show and why?
I can almost suggest that any work of mine shares and visually supports linkage to the genome of the entirety of my oeuvre. The purity and formal sensuality of my Mimesis works with their lay of black on bone surfaces would quickly bring any viewer into the heart of my concerns.

What was your biggest challenge when starting to paint? What is your favourite medium and do you see your work evolve into sculpture?

Finding one’s voice,  one’s point of view, and the conceptual rigor in which to anchor aesthetic and painterly approach is existentially the most daunting task. Evolving one’s craft is the other, in order to make manifest these internal sensibilities. Painting clearly has been the medium that has served me best over the years, but I can easily see the acute plays of figure/ground in my work translating well into sculpture.

What was the last exhibition you saw and if you could invite one artist to dinner who would that be?

I just saw the Delacroix show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was mesmerized by the depth of his gifts as a painter and visual anthropologist. I would like to be the fly on the wall at any dinner with Matisse and Picasso. Being that I just had an exhibition in London alongside a work of Malevich, I have no qualms in extending that conversation as well.

As an artist you might have been involved in the sale/acquisition of artworks, what is, according to you, the main risk for the seller/buyer? And more importantly what would you advise them when buying a work of art?

The main risk is acquiring any work of art is not buying it for the love of the work itself. The work has to pull one inexplicably toward it and take years to unfold the reasons of the romance. Enjoy fully living with the art you acquire and know that you will mourn its absence regardless of the return of any investment.

When is your next exhibition?

I have just concluded an exhibition of my Mimesis works in Vancouver, Canada and now have an exhibition on smaller works in Sao Paolo, Brazil. These work share my love of the Neo-Concretist movement in Brazil in the early 1960’s.

For more information please contact Karolina Blasiak, Rosemont Art Advisor, or Tel: +33 (0) 607 93 15 92
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