Khalif Kelly: Electronicon

Project Room 1 May 16–Aug 22, 2009

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Khalif Kelly: Electronicon
May 16–Aug 22, 2009





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Khalif Kelly, Brother to Brother, 2009

In his first museum exhibition, Khalif Kelly presents a new series of paintings based on vignettes from imaginary fairy tale adventures that portray children interacting with an array of weird and wonderful protagonists. With a fresh and vivid palette, a reductive, cartoon-like figurative style with a metallic-like patina reminiscent of video game robots and characters, Kelly creates scenes that on closer inspection reveal a mixture of personal archetypes and classic racial stereotypes.

The artist’s aesthetic includes references to the figurative work of Jacob Lawrence and to the controversial stop motion animations of George Pal, especially John Henry and the Inky-Poo and the Jasperseries from the 1940s. Like Pal, Kelly utilizes the perception of race as a narrative device, something to work with and work against in the children’s formation of identity through play.

Kelly was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1980 and grew up in Arlington, Texas. He received his B.F.A. in Painting from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his M.F.A. from Yale University. The artist lives and works in New Haven, Connecticut, and also works in New York.


Support for the exhibition is provided by the Peter Norton Family Foundation on behalf of Eileen Harris Norton.