Vito Schnabel Gallery is pleased to present Jordan Kerwick: Things we talk about, things we see, the gallery’s first exhibition dedicated to the Australian-born artist. This intimate presentation, which features four new paintings, will anticipate the artist’s major New York solo show with Vito Schnabel that is scheduled to open in March 2022 at the gallery’s 19th Street location in the Chelsea Arts District.
From September 16 through October 30, 2021, Jordan Kerwick: Things we talk about, things we see will be on view at Vito Schnabel Gallery’s 43 Clarkson Street exhibition space.
Jordan Kerwick has quickly acquired global recognition for his bold, raw and unapologetic approach to palette and pattern, executing vivid, expressionistic and highly-stylized compositions. Domestic objects, predatory animals, and mythical beasts — taxidermy rugs ornamented with geometric markings, double headed king cobras, ferocious fanged tigers, and feather-maned unicorns — populate his figurative canvases and create a contemporary folklore or fable that is playful, kinetic and arcane. Known for his colorful, eclectic still-life paintings, Kerwick’s latest body of work explores the fantastical elements and storied visions of the artist’s interior imagination where new and unknown terrains collide. Using a variety of materials, from oil, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, to oil stick and collage on paper, the artist’s “the more mistakes, the merrier” approach rejoices in the fortuitous relationships that arise between unexpected combinations of color, texture, and form.
Kerwick’s striking visual language stems largely from his homebody, domestic lifestyle. Art historical references are entangled with ancient iconography. Symbols from Egyptian art combine with tropes from popular culture, such as the bold and electrifying color schemes of comic book series’ heroes and villains. Beyond the wondrous pictorial worlds and fantastical figurative characters that repeatedly populate the artist’s canvases, Kerwick carefully considers the gestural and the abstract in his nuanced construction of richly tactile, courageously vibrant, and flattened compositions. His fresh, authentic lexicon of shapes and color absorbs influence from the heavy-weight hitters of Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism, and Hard-edged painting, citing Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Adolph Gottlieb, Agnes Martin, and the modern genius of Henri Matisse as artists who infiltrate his visual impulse.
The recent paintings on view at Vito Schnabel Gallery are a cacophonous celebration of Kerwick’s tenacity to articulate surfaces of brash and magnetic prowess. Using tubes of oil paint, he articulates thick, tactile lines that are loose and raw, adding detail and dimension to the monochromatic field. His free-floating figures hover on the canvas: in Yves beginning and end, Kerwick adorns the heads of a two-headed blue tiger with sacred feathered headdresses. A similar headdress appears above a blue king cobra in Battle of Right vs Good, in which the cobra is fighting a two-headed bear. The double symbolism of these creatures dually calls to mind the Uraeus worn by the Gods and Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt as well as the “Feathered Serpent,” a prominent deity of Mesoamerica, including the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations. The veining patterning of the feathers becomes a recurring motif of formal exploration.
About the Artist
Jordan Kerwick (b. 1982, Melbourne, Australia) is a self-taught artist who began his painting career in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions include Allouche Benais Gallery, Athens, Greece (2021); Galerie Julie Cadet, Paris, France (2021); Union Gallery, London, England (2021); Pt. 2 Gallery, Oakland, California (2021, 2019); Piermarq*, Sydney, Australia (2020, 2018); Anna Zorina Gallery, New York (2019); a dual show at Masahiro Maki Gallery, Tokyo, Japan and Paris, France (2019); TW Fine Art, Brisbane, Australia (2019); and Delphian Gallery, London, United Kingdom (2018).
Kerwick lives and works in Albi, France.