Clerestory Fine Art Presents Brutal by Steve Kelly

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Clerestory Fine Art presents Brutal, large-scale mixed media work by Montclair native Steve Kelly. Opening reception, Thursday, October 3.

Like Kelly’s sculptural paintings, the simple title — “brutal” — strikes viewers as confrontational, but upon closer examination it’s meaning is both layered and complex. Associations with the french word “brut,” include “raw,” “crude,” “feral,” and “animalistic.” In this complex sense of brutality, Kelly’s work illustrates dichotomy between animal instinct and meticulous form. He incorporates physical objects such as commercial ads, pornography, cigarettes, plastic bags, caution tape, money, and printed reproductions, crumpling then lacquering them to create exquisite sculptural surfaces paired with layers of traditional oil painting and energetic splashes of color. These forms come together to create a unique and identifiable aesthetic, simultaneously evoking references to graffiti, the textural pop-art of Robert Rauschenberg, the playfulness of Keith Haring, and the physicality of Ushio Shinohara’s boxing paintings.

Steve Kelly, Pig City, 2019. Oil, mixed media on canvas, 69.75 x 50.25”

Self-identity in the digital age, where artists in particular are understood through their social media presence, presents a psychosis unique to this era. Kelly describes his work as a “comment on the absurdity of everyday life and modern-day trends.” This exhibition reckons with anxiety and identity by giving those ineffable concepts physical form. The form is “brutal” in the sense that it’s the output of “raw” mental states, rather than a refined meditation on them. Kelly’s platform becomes, in itself, a commentary on the challenges media platforms post in constructing ourselves in the 21st century.

Steve Kelly, Family Fun, 2017. Oil, mixed media on canvas, 50 x 66”

Special Events

Opening Reception and Montclair Art Walk Thursday, October 3, 6-9pm

Comedy & Prozak
Wednesday, October 16, 8:30-10:00pm
Standup Comedy hosted by Joey Palestina
$10 cover (adults only)

Kids Art: Multi-Media Collage with Artist Steve Kelly (Montclair Design Week featured event)
Saturday, October 26, 2-4pm
Kids (ages 5-12) will discuss work by local artist Steve Kelly, and then pull from their observations to create their own artworks using the very same materials employed by Kelly: found objects, collage, lots of wood glue, paint, and canvas.

Panel Discussion: Psychology of Creative Space (Montclair Design Week featured event)
Saturday, October 26, 7-9pm
Kathryn Waggener McGuire, Director of Clerestory Fine Art, Steve Kelly and Joseph Palestina, Curators of Art and Prozak, will discuss how atmosphere and design can be utilized to activate immersive art experiences across multiple media and locations in our community.

Horror & Prozak
Thursday, October 31, 9-11pm
Halloween Ball with punch, films, performances, and horror improv.

Closing Reception
Friday, November 15, 6-8pm

Brutal: October 3–November 15, 2019
Clerestory Fine Art, 40 Church Street, Montclair,
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday 12pm–4:30pm; Saturday 12–5:00pm, and by appointment

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