John Kelly

"A Dancer prepares for her performance. A woman by a window looks at a bird. A woman looks out from under white drape. Within each frame, he masterfully captures a psychological drama."

Dancer Reaching, 2019 - Oil on canvas 18 x 24 in.

Born in Paris, John Kelly grew up in New York and has been drawing and painting since childhood. He attended the School of Visual Arts in the 1980s and after graduation, he worked as the Advertising Art Director of Details Magazine and designed advertisements for clients like Geoffrey Beene, Christian LaCroix, and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Kelly participated in the  East Village Art Scene at the time, showing at 301 Houston Street Gallery, and Ground Zero Gallery. 

"My work then was influenced mainly by the Abstract Expressionists and the German Expressionists, but that changed when I saw the large Balthus retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1983, and my work became primarily figurative, and has remained so ever since. My influence since then gravitated toward 19th-century French painting, especially Degas, as well as contemporary figurative painters like William Bailey and Jeremy Lipking, and traditional Japanese prints. I studied with Jeremy Lipking from 2012 to 2014, and he has been an enormous influence."

After moving to Los Angeles, John Kelly studied with Jeffrey Lipking, and began showing at the Hawthorne Arts Complex, both one-man and group shows. He also participated in group shows at Muses Gallery, and in the Gallery Girls' annual exposition. Kelly was a finalist for the Art Renewal Center Salon, and a finalist for the Richmond 75 salon. He has now relocated to Paris.

"My feeling these days is that although I love abstract and conceptual art, using the figure in an academic manner is more interesting to me. Seeing a figure painted in a way that people can recognize easily creates an intimacy and a challenge that is visceral."

Image, 2018 - Oil on canvas 81 x 60 cm
Window, 2015 - Oil on canvas 24 x 36 in.
Waking Geisha, 2015 - Oil on canvas 24 x 36 in.
Pierrot Study #3, 2016 - Oil on canvas 10 x 10 in.

This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist


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