by Jeffrey Carlson
The bold, captivating, and genre-defying paintings of contemporary artist Ian Kimmerly are the subject of a new solo exhibition at San Francisco's Dolby Chadwick Gallery.
Ian Kimmerly | Precious Breathing Space, 2013 | Oil and acrylic on canvas | 60 x 72 in
Ian Kimmerly is an artist who carefully navigates the realms of the physical and the conceptual, the representational and the abstract. His technique is bold and gestural; the marks of discrete, single brushstrokes remain visible throughout his busy canvases. An orchestrated color theme develops in each work, but splashes of bright and unexpected color disrupt any sense of monotony. Perhaps most interestingly, the careful eye will catch glimpses of a face, a hand, or even a full figure amid the maelstrom of slashing abstract strokes.
It is precisely this open space in between the tactile, physical world and the cerebral abstract that Kimmerly's art explores so meaningfully. In Continuous Wave, an upcoming exhibition of new paintings at San Francisco's Dolby Chadwick Gallery, visitors will have the opportunity to enter and enjoy Kimmerly's complex artistic vision.
Ian Kimmerly | Stay Awhile My Inner Child, 2013 | Oil and acrylic on canvas | 60 x 72 in
The artist writes, "Each of these paintings began as a collection of source images: photographs taken by me and also found in magazine images from the 1960s and '70s. With each painting in this exhibition, I wanted to say something about the complexity and temporal qualities of the human experience.
"All the paintings in Continuous Wave started with this idea, with the desire to maintain a connection to the physical. Each painting then goes in different directions as images are added and removed, along with abstract passages and other layers."
"I find it difficult to navigate today's seemingly necessary media interactions (cell phones, TV, social media, etc.), while maintaining a solid footing in the present moment. In the wake of so much technological advancement, it's become important to me (and to my work) to maintain a connection to the natural world's physical realities, which inform how we engage with our environment and each other.
Ian Kimmerly | The Living Layer, 2013 | Oil and acrylic on canvas | 40 x 48 in
The sustained presence of human figures within largely abstract compositions seems to point toward their special significance. These figures continually draw the eye, but they are distanced from us by the haze and distortion produced in Kimmerly's dynamic paintings. Speaking to the significance of his figures, the artist explains, "You can argue whether we respond to figures in paintings because of an engrained survival instinct or an inherent desire to empathize and relate to others. I have always been interested in figurative paintings that are able to stir up these existential issues, paintings where the structure of the figure is intact but there is some sort of expressive quality or comment on the human condition.
"I find it is essential to reference the world we experience in order to wonder what may exist beyond it. For this reason, the figures in my paintings are often obscured in some way. They may be reflections in windows or manipulated as they're painted to convey an emotional distance."
Ian Kimmerly | Sea Change, 2012 | Oil and acrylic on canvas | 60 x 66 in
With their nearly endless visual interest and real psychological power, one could easily (and happily) be lost in Kimmerly's paintings.
Continuous Wave will open at Dolby Chadwick Gallery on June 6, with an artist's reception to be held that evening from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The exhibition runs through July 6.
A native of Northport, Michigan, Ian Kimmerly lives and works in San Francisco. He has studied at the London School of Economics, the University of Michigan (B.F.A. 2002), the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia, and the University of Arizona (M.F.A. 2005). Kimmerly's work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions in San Francisco and Tucson, and in group shows in Jonesboro, Arkansas; Dallas; San Antonio; New York; Sebastopol, California; Scottsdale, Arizona; Slovakia; and Mexico.
For more information about the art of Ian Kimmerly, visit www.iankimmerlyart.com