Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Artist of the Week

David Keel

When I asked Chicago artist David Keel to describe his work he replied by asking me how I would describe his work, and so I will. In a world filled with man-made structures that are solid and unmoving, nature is the only thing that is free to move. In fact, nature is constantly moving, bending and wrapping itself around homes and buildings. There are certain seasons when the leaves and trees and life moves at a faster pace, and these are the seasons that David seems to capture. He paints the wind, cold and calming, as it scraps the edges of physical structures that restrict its path. He captures the flowers as they bend to a near crumble, but released them before they break. His paintings move and sway, and recently he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): How would you describe your work?
David Keel (DK): If someone asked me "how would I describe my work?" I'd ask them "how would you describe my work?"

It doesn't really matter what I think. There's ways I want it to be and things I want to say through it but to try and control these things I've found a lost cause because it seems peoples' minds are made up.
OA: The pieces on your website seem to focus on nature, flowers and leaves. Where did your fascination with flowers and leaves come from?
DK: I wouldn't so much say I have a fascination with leaves but more so a minor obsession with the lines used to create them. Its just a line and its inverse repeated over and over again. I used the shape to teach myself how to draw and compose compositions in my own way. Its as good a shape as any as well as a fairly universal one in nature. Everything I draw is rooted in this shape- eventually i see it phasing its way out of my paintings completely, but it will still probably be there, underneath the surface.

As far as flowers, I started painting them because I recently learned how to garden and I've been surrounded by them in my day to day life. To understand the process by which things grow and the pace at which things happen was a very important thing to me. We are very much conditioned to think things happen quickly and all at once. To truly understand that a flower is created by something as mundane as putting a seed in the ground and that we, as nature, naturally move at this pace and function in this way was more or less a relief. So painting them was just a means by which to confirm and get closer to this concept.
OA: Do you utilize a set color pallet or does it depend on the painting? Do you feel you use color to evoke a specific emotion in the viewer?
DK: I try not to let my idea of how I want or think things should be or the color I want something to be bog me down. If a color i have my heart set on needs to change, Ill take a deep breathe and paint over it. I've found the more comfortable I get with abandoning things i have my heart set on, the more likely they are to come back to me. Of course you have to learn to recognize them when they come back because they almost never come back in the form you think they will.

As for color, I definitely use color to evoke emotion but sometimes painting an apple white is much more effective than painting it red.

OA: You just recently begin maintaining a website. Do you feel it is important for an artist to have and maintain a web portfolio?
DK: Important enough to take the time to do it.

OA: What is your opinion of the Chicago art scene? Is Chicago a good place to be an artist?
DK: I think nowadays any place is a good place to be an artist. There's enough of an art scene over the internet that if your serious about it you can find ideas and opinions to keep you stimulated and moving forward . Chicago is great because there are an endless amount of spaces to show art, people are fairly receptive, and there are a ton of artists. Chasing down the next new thing or getting too wrapped up in "the scene" I find to be unhealthy and completely exhausting. Turning your focus towards finding meaning and beauty in everyday, repetitive life is much more realistic and challenging, and what a viewer can relate to.

OA: What's next for David Keel?
DK: I'm moving my studio to Brussels for part of the winter as a way of dealing (or not dealing)with the Chicago winter. Then onto planning the next show, which should happen in may.

Bonus Questions:
OA: Coffee? If yes, where can you find the best cup?
DK: A coffee shop is opening up in my neighborhood on the corner of Milwaukee and Logan blvd. They're supposed to be serving metropolis coffee which I've heard nothing but good things about, so hopefully that will be the best cup in town.

OA: What type of music do you listen to and who are a few of your favorites? Do you listen to music while you paint?
DK: A friend of mine gave me a Lykke Li cd for my birthday which I've been listening to non stop for the last week.

For more information on David Keel please visit his website.

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