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Josh Keyes Solo: Fragment

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 07 Jan 2010

Fragment, a solo exhibition of new works by Josh Keyes, opens at Jonathan LeVine Gallery Saturday, January 16th. In what will be the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery, Keyes continues to expand upon his signature aesthetic.

Rendered in clean, controlled and finely detailed realism, the paintings in Fragment feature various wildlife species isolated within habitats that foreshadow a theoretically dystopian fate. These fragmented landscapes are surrounded by a sea of empty white space, representing the universal unknown in an allegorical interpretation of the effect of contemporary civilization’s disconnect from nature.

Through his work, Keyes often explores timely political and ecological themes which involve a deep concern for the environmental crisis our planet is facing. This includes aspects of the effects of global warming such as: climate change, species extinction, the decline of natural resources and the threat of rising sea levels.

All of these issues are integrated and woven throughout the mythological fabric of the work, in a resounding visual study on causality. Subject matter suggestive of hope, healing and mortality is conveyed through the shedding of skin, exposed bone and skeletal structures, while green growth and butterflies symbolize transformation and rebirth.

The artist has said:
“Through my work I attempt to examine the phenomenon of transformation, in a metaphorical interpretation of both biological and psychological change. These paintings embody an idiosyncratic vision, yet the familiar imagery allows for a connection to collective concerns, shared globally. The animals I paint personify unconscious drives and energies. The tension created when unconscious elements meet the conscious landscape is something that holds tremendous mystery and fascination for me. It is in this space that I feel free to explore the depths of archetypal and mythical potentiality. What began as a personal journey has (I hope) translated into images with emotional impact that resonate with others to question their own temporality.”

Born in 1969 in Tacoma, Washington, Josh Keyes currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Keyes graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later received his MFA in painting from Yale University.

His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. Over the past several years, Keyes has developed an iconic and complex personal vocabulary of imagery, creating a unique juxtaposition between the natural world and man-made landscapes.

His work conveys an anxious vision of what our world might become in the future as a result of current global warming predictions. The objects and animals incorporated into Keyes’ dissected environments each hold individual iconographic significance. The artist weaves his personal mythology through painting fractured and isolated landscapes—either underwater or overgrown with vegetation. The imagery functions as a way for Keyes to express his personal experience while commenting on and sharing his interpretation of world events.

Josh Keyes
Solo Exhibition

January 16th—February 13th, 2010
Opening Reception: Saturday, January 16th, 7pm—9pm
More info at




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