American artist Clay Ketter has chosen the Impasse Beaubourg of Galerie Templon to exhibit a new series of abstract works that fall somewhere between paintings and readymades. This new work is inspired by the devastated landscape of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Despite the subject matter, these “pictures” and painted photographs do not conjure up a sense of desolation, but seek to communicate a vital energy that is almost musical.
Clay Ketter has been developing an original body of work since the 1990s, his paintings inhabiting the frontier between minimalism and architecture. His work explores the strange beauty of construction and demolition sites. The artist uses a combination of paint, photography and building materials to invent abstract surfaces with unexpected textures a blend of stucco, plaster and wood.
This new exhibition is rooted in Clay Ketter’s 2007 project, Gulf Coastal Slabs, a set of photographs documenting the effects of Hurricane Katrina. He spent many months on top of a crane taking photographs of the traces of foundations left by houses swept away by the hurricane. Similar to the work he produced in the Spanish city of Valencia in 2003, this project significantly enriched his vocabulary as a painter.
The new works bring to mind aerial views of urban building sites or dismantled interiors with traces of shelves and wallpaper. And yet the artist succeeds in liberating himself from this bleak reality, finding the freedom to create dancing compositions, which tends towards the physionomical. As he explains, “My paintings are projections of energy into the room’s space (...) I also find that many of my compositions resemble, even if ever so slightly, the composition of the human face. This comes about subconsciously. These works are self-determined, visually associative and the process of painting them can be described as hallucinatory.” Minimalist painter and carpenter, Clay Ketter is also a musician; he is aware that music, particularly rock music, probably has a deep-reaching influence on his approach to energy and the visual rhythm of his artwork.
Born in the USA in 1961, Clay Ketter has lived and worked for over twenty years in Sweden, where he is recognized as one of the country’s most important painters. The Stockholm Moderna Museet recently dedicated a major retrospective to his work (2009). He has already featured in a wide range of international exhibitions, and his work is exhibited in many public collections, including at the Arken Museum of Art in Denmark, Hamburg’s Falkenberg Collection, the Museum Moderner Kunst in Frankfurt, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and Vienna’s Museum moderner kunst/ Stiftung Ludvig. He is represented by the Sonnabend Gallery in New York and Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris, a collaboration dating back to 2001.