Influenced by a myriad of disparate and iconic artists such as Brancusi, Bourgeois, Diebenkorn, and Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Kelly creates art that is intelligent, alert, harmonious, and yet paradoxical. Incorporating unexpected materials from his travels, Kelly layers for example printed antique papers, documents, signs, and vintage posters onto panels that are then built up and covered with saturated pigments. Remnants of their beauty and the history and language they impart are thus preserved in new modern ways. Paint is applied with puzzle-like precision in shapes that capture strong lines, forms, and color. These are sophisticated works that carefully meld the past with the modern and the new in an elegance that is just beautiful. Kelly is especially mindful of how the shapes in his work interact with each other.
"Much like a stonemason building a wall, my recent work seems to be anchored in a step-by-step process of composing formal puzzles. I have grown fond of the pared-down tools of line, form and color and the bountiful yield of their juxtapositions, without the need of references or symbolic otherness to give them meaning. The tension of exquisite junctions and disjunctions achieved by a process of patient build-up of papered and painted layers and edge-to-edge arrangements, makes for a fine focus of meditative work. Though the work has formal and austere footings the efforts of edit and re-edit seems to create sensual surfaces that expose a history of tactile decisions. My affection for the likes of Hans Arp, Myron Stout, Tony Smith, Brancusi, Calder and Ellsworth Kelly, plus the Bauhaus Gang, coupled with over 20 years of crafting the surfaces I paint on, gives me a small niche in this intimate investigation of form that I can call my own."
Assemblage Rouge LXXII presents a stunning contrast by way of color and geometry. Kelly juxtaposes deep red against warm ivory, their difference made even more striking through his use of alternating concave and convex forms. There is a lyrical positive-meets-negative effect to the opposition within Assemblage Rouge LXXII that creates a sense of balance and dynamism. These fields of color act as inverses of one another; identical in shape yet reversed, they fit together like pieces of a puzzle. Mathematical precision is inherent to Robert Kelly's procedure, and the result of this diligence is the austere kind of geometric sophistication one might find in a Calder or a Mondrian.
Studio of the Artist