Garry Neill Kennedy
Wall Paintings and Related Works 1974-1995
05/16/98 - 06/28/98
Portikus shows the first one-man exhibition in Germany by the Canadian artist Garry Neill Kennedy (b. 1935). In America, Kennedy's work and influence is quite renowned. For many years he was president of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, one of the most influential centres for conceptual art world-wide.
Since 1974, Kennedy has been devoted to a type of painting thematizing the process of painting itself and its function as pure sign. To do this, he either reveals the conceptual meaning of the chosen medium, or attempts to almost literally implement the title of his work.
Kennedy has himself characterised his working method using the term "deconstruction", thus describing his approach in which he removes familiar things from their usual context in order to create them anew, often exposing them to an ironic strangeness.
Kennedy's works often deal with the theme of power and its manifestations. The artist also utilises other material such as cartoons or magazine photos.
For the exhibition at Portikus, Kennedy has chosen pieces that reflect his work of the past 20 years in an exemplary manner. He designs the entire wall surface of the exhibition space. The different works thus forms a unity, despite their claim for autonomy.
One work exhibited is "American History Painting", a good introduction to Kennedy's working method. The artist replaces the traditional historical painting and its figurative representation with an abstract representation of densely overlapping colour stripes. Only those colours were chosen whose names are charged with cultural or political meaning, such as "American Holly" or "Soldier Green".
Thus, new meanings are created which are "not subject to aesthetic decisions", as the artist says.