Mike Kelley: Sublime

Mike Kelley once said: “I want to keep away from any focus on the human person except for its sheer materiality.” during a conversation with Thomas McEvilley that took place in 1992.  What Kelley meant at the time was that he wanted to avoid the questions of identity.  The artist instead chose to work with the unconscious and memories of trauma and uncanny hidden places deep within the psyche.  When on the subject of sublime and taking from Edmund Burk, McEvilley gave this interpretation that echoed the ideas behind the artist’s works in the current exhibition at Hauser & Wirth: “For Burke the sublime was anything that is so vast and ‘other’ that it seems by its very existence to threaten the annihilation of the observing subject.  One is witnessing a thing whose inner meaning is one’s own annihilation.”  
Mike Kelley 
City 17
Tinted urethane resin on illuminated base
213.4 x 41.9 (diam.) cm / 84 x 16 1/2  (diam.) in

On September 10, Hauser & Wirth opened “Mike Kelley,” the gallery’s first exhibition devoted to the artist’s later works produced during 2007 – 2011 (just one year before his death).  Organized in collaboration with Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, this is the first in New York to focus exclusively on the artist’s later series, Kandors.

The atmosphere upon entering the gallery spaces feel like a cavernous refuge of outer space creatures.  Under a spectrum of dim lights exuberating rays of primary colors and in between filled up of various secondary colors as the result of light refractions, Kelley’s City pieces are mesmerizing to the eyes as they look to be floating in space.  
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Mike Kelley 
City 3
2007 – 2011
Tinted urethane resin, acrylic on illuminated base
144.8 x 52.1 (diam.) cm / 57 x 20 1/2 (diam.) in

Mike Kelley 
Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude) (detail)
Mixed media
289.6 x 1524 x 2286 cm / 114 x 600 x 900 in

Installation view, ‘Mike Kelley’, Hauser &Wirth New York, 18th Street, 2015
© Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts / Licensed by VAGA New York
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth 
Photo: Fredrik Nilsen


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