Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Black and White

Kurt Ketchum ( KURT K3TCHUM )
Axom Gallery, Rochester, New York

The Axom Gallery has renovated its space to create more room for the design products on display and this also makes more room for artwork, paintings and the like.  Now on view, a show by painter and graphic designer Kurt Ketchum called: BLACK5,WHIT35,COLOR3D5 thru to June 1, 2018.  I recall seeing some of Kurt Ketchum's art in a show at Rochester Contemporary a few seasons ago and this present exhibition builds on that experience.

Axom Gallery features Kurt Ketchum

There are many facets to the atmosphere created by Ketchum's paintings, some of which have a historical relationship to abstract expressionism through works by artists like Cy Twombly  ( calligraphic scrawls on white grounds ) and also contemporary affiliations with artists like Wade Guyton ( who was featured in a show at the Whitney Museum recently ).  The primary impression of the many paintings by Kurt Ketchum is one of fragmentation that skirts the limits of graphic design to function as a coherent form of communication.  Ketchum's art opens the door to a poetry of the unexpected, and not only that - it builds a brand out of that concern.  My guess is that this art can perform a commentary on our society - complexity viewed as bits and pieces - filled with energy and determination.

Basketball Hoop 48" x 36"
Kurt Ketchum

Maybe it is because I taught graphic design at R.I.T. for years that I find an attraction to Ketchum's artwork, and his paintings have an engagement with typography, spatial relationships, and a thought process-in-progress that I find most engaging.  In one painting above - Ketchum includes a basketball hoop that brings to mind inner-city sport and play.  Across the room Ketchum builds a wall of small paintings in a kind of altar piece to contemplation.

Axom Gallery features paintings by Kurt Ketchum

Rather than title his paintings, Ketchum just gives you the measurements.  Many of the works remind me of a kind of Morse Code -  dots and dashes, and maybe more than the sum of its parts.  The room  by design has a engaging aesthetic that accounts for texture, thought and urbanity.

Kurt Ketcham