online: 21 may 2006
modified: 21, 22, 23 may 2006

21 may 2006 Ellsworth Kelly

15:33 at the Serpentine Gallery, London... born 1923, recent works new modes...a safe world - composed of what used to be novelty and upset perceptions (in the time of modernism) - he's invented a survival strategy not only for himself but for anyone who wants to inhabit this most classical, peaceful, and yet liberating world of pure colours, juxtaposed in most stable yet dynamic forms, the uncompleted, masked, curved, squares (or near squares), rectangles, some blending with the all-white walls*... i stand in the long room containing only 3 paintings, each a 'relief'** of a canvas in one colour placed over most of another (e.g. a nearly square red canvas over a rectangular blue one)... i turn from looking at the green canvas on blue, and the yellow on red, to look through the windows at the green on green on grey of the trees, grass and clouds outside (seen now in a Kelly-like way)...

...i realise that his art, like any of the best, supports, illuminates and enlivens one's perceptions of the world...

from the curator's description:

Kelly finds forms and colours 'already made' in the real world, taking inspiration from the images and objects around him, such as architectural details or patterns of light and shadows.

*i decide to ask if he indeed chose or sought the close match of the wall white to the white of the paintings... Yes, said one of the people working here, Kelly was here before the exhibition and he did choose the white paint that covers the walls, the ceiling, the plain rectangular stools - in fact everything.

**by 'relief' he means a canvas in one colour made to fit exactly over (i.e. in front of) another - with an area of the rearward canvas still visible - and the two together being a 'relief', or shallow sculpture.

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