For this exhibition, Kelly continues to play with the applied reference of the
‘historical present’ that he has developed over the past several years. He builds up his surfaces with vintage papers he recently collected from Russia, Holland, the Czech Republic and Italy, letting the aged marks, bleeds and textural arrangements of these papers act as a guide to the subsequent laying down of pigments. The meticulously collaged surfaces create a mid-‐narrative, inhabited ground of references referring to the Bauhaus and Constructivist sensibilities. The bold lays of juxtaposed blocks of color, arranged precisely along the fissures of the underlying paper collages, emphasize the weight, authority and sensual beauty of the materiality of paint.
Kelly’s work is in a sense an amalgamation of collage and painting. Geometric-‐ shaped color fields of oil pigments are subsequently laid down with a trowel-‐like brush leaving a fine, rhythmic pattern formed in drags across the overlapping sides of the collaged papers, covering the surface and revealing an overall grid. The remaining uncovered areas of the vintage papers reveal unreadable printed elements that are present on these pages, introducing a kind of pentimenti. Kelly meticulously creates his paintings by first covering the entire canvas with a collage of paper and then masterly builds up the surface with the pared down tools of line, form and color. His exquisite craftsmanship gives his work their remarkable elegance and grace.
Robert Kelly influences include the De Stijl movement, Malevich and Mondrian and modernists like Bauhaus, Joaquin Torres-‐Garcia, Philip Guston, Richard Diebenkorn, Kurt Schwitters, Blinky Palermo and Brazilian Constructivist artists Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica. Kelly himself cites Hans Arp, Myron Stout, Tony Smith, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Bill Traylor, Louise Bourgeois and Ellsworth Kelly.