ARNOLD J. KEMP
WHEN WILL MY LOVE BE RIGHT
The title of the exhibition WHEN WILL MY LOVE BE RIGHT refers to a composition recorded in the 1980s by Robert Winters and Fall. The song is of the genre of music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular, testifying. Through this song the artists speak of intimacy and doubt and plead for human connection in an environment where connection might not be possible. The objects in this exhibition seek a similar space of pathos and include hand-made men’s shoes, seashells, poetic texts, hand crafted leather belts and a series of new images which I familiarly call “aluminums.” These images are created through the playful manipulation of aluminum foil that is documented in my studio and reproduced photographically. Each image is unique and framed in a color particular to the image in order to resist the idea that these images could be endlessly recreated and that the frames could be interchangeable among the images. In creating the frames the way I have I am seeking to move the action and the idea of painting to the framing of the image. With these works the frame is just as important as the image, as each color like each image has its own character. Like the original song, the exhibition WHEN WILL MY LOVE BE RIGHT is composed of elements characterized by call and response and improvisation.
These works conceptualize a sense of touch, a sense of empathy and a sense of humor. In thinking about the characters that are described in the various “aluminums” I find that characters emerge also in the mundane objects of the shoes, the shells and the leather belts that bear a buckle that simply names them as SHY. These works are poetic, associative, and sensual in their insistence on the possibility of mundane objects to portray tense spasms of the soul peppered with pain, laughter, irony and question marks.
This exhibition will also feature a performance of a short experimental play called IN ARMS that will be read by myself and two other performers shortly after Valentine’s Day. IN ARMS uses readymade material, overheard speech, and observed gesture. Three voices speak out of impossible living and loving situations in an attempt to shift the perception of everyday reality from ignorance and unease to one of presence.
WHEN WILL MY LOVE BE RIGHT is the latest in a series of exhibitions that I have mounted in order to create spaces of conscience and consciousness where I can see myself and my community’s reflection while leaving room for laughter, as, in our current cultural moment, perhaps that is all we have. My emphasis is on process, experimentation and content where the end product is a by-product of experimentation that continues outside of the studio in how the work meets the public. This often happens outside of the formal gallery system in the form of lecture/performances, limited edition artists’ books, and art objects. At the heart of my process of probing issues of personal and collective realities is a desire and potential for locating imagination, thought and emotion in objects, images and texts that are derived from my concern with what it means for a painter to think.