Noemi Molitor reviews Keltie Ferris‘ exhibition for TAZ

Klemm’s and Kadel Willborn are pleased to present, //TWO/\FOLD\\\ & \\\TWO\\\ ///FOLD///, the first double exhibition by co-represented artist Keltie Ferris. The conception and selection of the works were specially created for both galleries in Düsseldorf and Berlin and impressively combine Keltie Ferris’ workflow of the last two years.

Synergies are characteristic of Keltie Ferris’ painterly approach, which integrates references to classical modernism, performance and street art to develop a surprisingly dynamic, powerful visual language.
In the two exhibitions as a whole, Ferris’ new outstanding abstract canvases are presented together with his most recent series of ‘Body Prints’. The conflation of such extremely contrasting painterly techniques with the physicality of the works on display has an extraordinary effect.

Keltie Ferris’ paintings need no theme, context, or network in order to express their force and meaning. Functioning according to a logic of their own, his expressive new gridded works develop energetic spatial structures which convey an utter sense of motion and ongoing transformation. With a refined oil-based, air-brush technique, Ferris’ canvases radiate an exceptional sense of depth and visual texture, thus ultimately turning the perception of his works into a physical experience.

Keltie Ferris, \\Two/// \\Fold///, 2022
oil and acrylic on canvas, 211 x 236 x 7 cm

On the occasion of his European double presentation, Keltie Ferris is expanding the ‚Body Print’ series, which he started in 2015 with female gender identity. The body print series occupies a special place in the artist’s oeuvre as it offered an avenue for Ferris to literally inject ‘physicality’ into his works, both as a form of self-portraiture and as an alternate means of mark-making.

Keltie Ferris, Sentinel, 2022
oil and powdered pigments on paper, 104 x 75 cm

Then as now, her/his body is dressed in a denim shirt and pants, which she/he then covers with linseed oil, paint and pigments, then pressing his body against previously painted paper as an active process. The result is a photographic yet fragmented impression, recalling an Xray or Xerox copy of her/himself.

Keltie Ferris, U xxx Me, 2022
pastel on canvas, 206 x 249 x 7 cm

Ferris’ ‘Body Prints’ reject an easy gendered identification of the body, suggesting a fluid and performative state of gender identity. The artist highlights the physicality of the process, subtly shifting the position of the body to create impressions that range in tone from static to fluid, defensive to aggressive, masculine to feminine.
With these new canvases and works on paper, the artist continues to explore painting as a personal index and deepens furthermore the relationship between himself and his work.

2 genders, 2 shows, 2 body of works, 2 in 1 – //TWO/\FOLD\\\ & \\\TWO\\\ ///FOLD/// point out the intrinsic unity of the concept of duality. Connecting dots between Berlin, Düsseldorf and New York, the correlation is once again open to the viewer, or as Keltie Ferris puts it: “I want the work to be reflective of myself as a being in general, as well as a political actor. I wanted it to refer to the accumulation of those individuals as well — my multiple selves together, imagined armies of citizens.”

Keltie Ferris (b.1977), lives in Brooklyn, New York. He received his MFA in 2006 from the Yale School of Art and his BFA in 2004 from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Recent solo exhibitions include FEEEEELING, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York, USA; RELIEF, Morán Morán Gallery, Los Angeles, US; U_N_D_E_R_S_C_O_R_E || DC Open, Düsseldorf, DE; *O*P*E*N*, Speed Art Museum, Louisville, US; [[[GENAU]]], KLEMM’S, Berlin, DE; (F(U(T( )U)R)E) at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY; Exclamation Point at Klemm’s, Berlin; Body Prints and Paintings at the University Art Museum at SUNY Albany, New York; M/A/R/C/H at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY; Doomsday Boogie at the Santa Monica Museum of Art; Body Prints at Chapter NY, New York; and ManEaters at the Kemper Museum, Kansas City. His works have been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston, Texas; Brooklyn Museum, New York; and Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indianapolis. The Academy of Arts and Letters recently awarded his the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Painting.