Kenton Nelson: New Work

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Open: 9.30am-6pm Tue-Fri, Sat by appointment

Faistauergasse 12, 5020 Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria
Open: 9.30am-6pm Tue-Fri, Sat by appointment


Kenton Nelson: New Work

Kenton Nelson: New Work
to Thu 30 Aug 2018
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In his new exhibition, Kenton Nelson (*1954, Los Angeles) focuses on Austrian and Bavarian motifs captured on camera during his last visit to Salzburg and the surrounding area in 2016.

Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska Kenton Nelson 2018 1

Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska Kenton Nelson 2018 2

Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska Kenton Nelson 2018 3

Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska Kenton Nelson 2018 4

Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska Kenton Nelson 2018 5

The images remind of bygone days: the lifestyle of the 1950s and 1960s experiences a revival. Conforming to today’s retro trend, sensual women in ski attire prepare to descend down the slopes (Bourne) while exuding intense graveness, giving the scene an air of solemnity. The paintings are reminiscent of snapshots: odd body parts are cropped, stay hidden and are left to the viewer’s imagination (Manikin). In Devoir one sees a woman in a traditional Austrian costume hanging up laundry in her garden, which gives way to a view of the Bavarian Alps. Kenton Nelson says about its making: “Devoir was inspired by my last visit to Salzburg, when Nikolaus Ruzicska and I took a trip to the countryside, which was like a day in paradise.”

Besides the Alpine scenery, the architecture of painted buildings (Drought, The Draw, The Project) and the vista from the Kapuzinerberg on to Salzburg (Strath) do not fail to amaze: Out of his studio in Pasadena, California Kenton Nelson has managed to masterfully put Salzburg’s cultural landscape on canvas in a meticulous manner. His studio workday starts at 7:30 a.m. with an inspection of his photo archive. After the artist has selected a suitable motif, he first conveys it as a drawing and then with acrylic paint onto canvas. The brush strokes are neatly sanded of to create a perfectly smooth surface: a reference to Christian Schad, a main representative of the New Objectivity. The works’ lighting resembles one found in Hollywood movies and commercials of the post-war era: glistening sunlight, an interplay of sharpness and blur create contoured outlines that evoke clarity and calm (Workhorse). The artist’s years of work as graphic designer and illustrator in the advertising industry unveil. Outside could be a template to a film poster: set in soft red evening light, sharp silhouettes of male figures stand against a diffusely outlined forest.

A nebulous source of light makes Kenton Nelson’s works enigmatic. The interlude of light and shade have been a suitable means to add suspense since the Baroque period. Caravaggio was one of the first of his contemporaries to irritate with excessively dramatic staging in extreme “Chiaroscuro” (light/dark). Kenton Nelson “seduces the observer with the help of his old master technique to take a look beyond the attractive surface and give way to the narrative elements of his pictorial snapshots.”(1)

Katja Mittendorfer
Salzburg, June 2018

(1) Cay Bubendorfer in „Ein Spiel, erzählt im Raum“, Kenton Nelson, Ausstellungskatalog Galerie Haas, Berlin, 2008

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska, Salzburg

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