Statement from the William Campbell Gallery Exhibition, September 2017:

Gravity and Light, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Jeff Kellar.

A shape rests on a shape. Color presses on color. The simple pleasure of perceiving space and the place of things. To describe how the world comes together using economical means. All the wonder of the world finds shape in gravity and light.

I use a mixture of resin, clay and pigment to assemble blocks of color that position themselves in space. The colors are made up of many layers. I paint on thin aluminum composite panels that are held away from the wall. The panels are not so much a window on the world but a surface to hold illusion.

The paintings are often a response to the sculptures. Sometimes I show the edges of shapes with more or less space around them. When I get very close to the objects, there a fewer clues available to judge them as objects in space, but the view is more intimate.

The paintings with repeated shapes and lines allow the suggestion of movement and rhythm as well as objects in relation to space. I think that time is a spatial and rhythmic concept and that by capturing a moment it’s possible to heighten the awareness of being alive.

I’ve gone from making sculptures that literally held space and light inside them to making paintings about space and light and now I’m making paintings and sculptures that explore the relationships between illusion and materiality. I think I’ve always been exploring the same questions in my work: trying to understand the way an artwork can capture a moment or seem to be beyond time. For a literature class I once wrote a paper called “Time and Space in the Writings of Milton, Shakespeare, and in Renaissance Painting”. I was fascinated by the evocation of temporal space defined by words and images. Now I’m using images and objects to explore the same questions of our experience. 

For several years I’ve been making paintings on an aluminum composite material that provides a very thin, flat panel. These paintings are held slightly away from the wall to emphasize the paintings as objects. The images can be viewed as an imagined space or they can be viewed as flat arrangements of color shapes. The viewer can choose between the illusion of depth and the actual flatness, or go back and forth between two interpretations. In this way I hope that the viewer will have an experience of the awareness of visual perception. I’m interested in the way emotions are affected by the perception of space… emotions created by one’s awareness of existing in physical space and consciousness of that act of perception.

I’m working with forms and imagery pared down to the minimum, so everything is important, including texture. It’s difficult to see in photographs, but the color in my paintings is not flat. I’m trying to achieve surfaces that have depth, warmth, and intensity. The surfaces have layers that come together in seams or an incised line that is filled with another color. The depiction of space, the materials, colors and textures connect the paintings to the methods I use in my sculpture.

In my recent series of “block paintings” the relationship of forms is again ambiguous so that the viewer can interpret the blocks of color as flat or existing in space. In my newest pieces, the images of flat areas of color have inspired sculptures of real blocks. I find myself involved, more than ever, in the exploration of the perceptual puzzle posed by form, space, surface, illusion, color, light and shade.