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  • 3


    Complete archive, 1999-present


    Summer: Blue, Yellow, and Gray, 2004, C-print in Kim Keever
    Courtesy, Feigen Contemporary, New York
    Summer: Blue, Yellow, and Gray, 2004, C-print

    Romancing the tones

    In his deftly orchestrated dioramas shot in a fish tank, Kim Keever seduces us with his gorgeous version of 'Nature.'


    Kim Keever's landscapes are rife with anticipation, as if a deity were about to step out from behind the backdrop of overarching clouds and announce an eternal free lunch. Unabashedly handsome, even majestic, they are nevertheless mysterious, moody and perhaps a bit malevolent (in a good way!). Wagnerian. Except there are no humans. We are seemingly either in a primordial Eden or a post-apocalyptic pastoral.

    Photographs by: Kim Keever.
    January 6 - February 19, 2005
    Opening reception: January 6, 2005, 6-8

    Gallery: Feigen Contemporary
    535 West 20th St. (btw. 10th and 11th Ave.)
    New York NY
    Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
    Phone: (212) 929-0500

    Immediately, these large, horizontal photographs evoke such luminaries as Church and Bierstadt, the Hudson River School and their predecessors, David Casper Friedrich and the German Romantics. Keever's photos hearken back to an era when nature was pristine and seemed vast while still capable of being haunting. There was no irony in the optimism it inspired. Keever's own Romanticism is writ large in these exuberant raptures. Delightfully so. The golds and blues are emblematic of nature and the idealism that realm inhabits in our minds. In "Summer: Blue, Yellow and Gray," a sunset (or is it a fire?) worthy of an Hawaiian shirt or a Bollywood poster emblazons the sky while in the foreground bent trees belie the seeming serenity. An uncanny sense of imminent kinetic energy lurks just under the surface. Nature is bipolar. Any moment, all hell could break loose.

    View of artist's studio set-up in Kim Keever  
    Courtesy, Feigen Contemporary, New York  
    View of artist's studio set-up
    And further undercutting the confection, dark marks mar the trans-serene settings — like scratches and scrapes on a negative, or perhaps scars on an old painting or ink on an engraving. They're actually caused by scum! Yes, because Keever takes pictures of his constructs in an aquarium. Over the years a film has built up on the glass.

    Finally, the succulent, almost palpable energy is created when he pours the pigment into the water. Colored lights complete the compelling illusion. Realizing that these realistic landscapes aren't real is half the fun. Finding out they're submerged is too much! Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" with all its scandal comes to mind.

    There is something a little sacrilegious about Keever's seeming deception. And yet that is the glorious salvation of this art. Keever has made exquisite concoctions that move with jewel precision. But he has provided a seamy side that expresses our time's concerns over the ruination of nature. So here we have it both. The sublime and the subterranean.

      We have it both. The sublime and the subterranean.
    In "July 3," we see a boulder-strewn declivity sprawled between jagged cliffs. The foreground is flooded. Lightening seems to filter through a writhing turmoil of atmosphere as if it were the trumpet section of the Berlin Philharmonic. The blues and blacks roil like wraiths above Macbeth's witches' cauldron. The scum marks are significant. They add an element of frost or decay, appearing to fluctuate between background and fore.

    As the elements duel in their eternal struggle, we fathom our profound solitude from a vantage of blissful negligence. The stagy darkness in "July 3" adds just the right amount of ballast to carry this brilliant show to new heights — or depths!

    JANUARY 12, 2005

    Reader comments on Kim Keever:

  • hey neighbor   from eric, Jan 21, 2005
  • GREAT SHOW GREAT ARTICLE   from Eric Ringsby, Mar 8, 2005
  • contact me   from Bill Pandolf, Apr 27, 2007

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