I think that I “like” the ultra-suede pieces more, and they hang in a manner that leads me into the back room. At first consideration the framed glass sheets that hang from the gallery’s ceiling seem precious in their compositions. On the other hand, the soft-looking and deeply hued suede is impossible to resist. “Aha,” my super-ego chides me in my head, “you are such a pushover for materials. Tsk.”
After yet another time up and down, along the gallery’s narrow space, I spy a nearly empty pane of glass, one that I had missed before. (With white frames and transparent bodies, theseartworks merge deceptively with the ceiling.) on this are placed stubby pins, Band Aids, writing implements, and a deck of cards. Each of these feels somehow dangerous. Perhaps the organizing principle here is other than by type? It may be that color, line and shape are equal considerations. Could be. The objects are placed all at the east end (in this installation) with two Glue Stix, a large marble and one rubber band straying farthest west – an odd rear or avant garde. This motley grouping seems correct somehow, as my eye keeps finding object families, and mixed families at that. I thrust aside my supposition of preciosity, for now I am intrigued and I wander again with my head tilted back.
I first noted the confusion of transparency where two small panes of glass are set upright, perpendicular to the clear “floor” and seem to descend through the support into my space. An electric cord appears also to pierce this barrier (psychological and physical) and I wonder about perception and fact as concerns of space and dimension.
My mind for a moment goes to the ancient ceramic soldiers in Sian, sentinels in their timeless rows, and to Walgreen’s where bright and shiny products are similarly arranged; and in this sculpture/painting I appreciate the simple effect of these objects hovering above my head, out of reach. I am protected from them, and they from me, but I recognize these commercial and domestic cleansers – indeed, the objects in each of Sean Kennedy’s works – as my equals in the world of images.
My eye is drawn back, with its ability to invoke physical sensations, to the artificial suede objects/paintings. Claret, russet, marine, a cloudy violet, and here I quit trying to define by naming the colors I see. They are beautifully marked, I suppose in their installation, and I think that any mark on them might have beauty, or better, these paintings seem able to accept any mark and still retain their beauty. What does this remind me of? Not of design, although both Modernist crispness and Memphis richesse are implied, no, each of these is a material concern and lack the proper attention to psychology; I think of my mother, in 1970, using ultra-suede and her sewing machine to explore the boundaries of chic in Diamond Bar. I remember a dress she wore once, when I danced with her at a party, and how when my father replaced me as her partner I looked back, and I saw reflected – no, not reflected but impressed – upon her my own image in that ultra-suede cocktail dress. In a similar way Sean Kennedy’s painting offer to us an immediate and present, yet nearly identity-less past.
Moving again to the front room I try to imagine – and I enjoy doing so – what the hanging sculptures might look like at eye-level. In my mind’s eye I raise myself and find three-dimensions where I had only before seen one. Then I shine a light from the ceiling, or from the sky, to see what shadows might be found in these things. Such an engagement is nice, and I’m grateful to be allowed it – if these views were present before me I might have overlooked them.
Thomas Duncan Gallery: http://thomasduncangallery.com/
Sean Kennedy exhibition through July 7, 2012