Stampede By Josh Keyes
One of last night’s hot-ticket gallery openings was the debut of Portland-based artist Josh Keyes’ new show, Migration, at Jonathan Levine in Chelsea. Migration features a series of paintings on panel, study drawings on paper and a ten-foot canvas entitled Stampede (See above), which is the artist’s largest painting to date.
On the subject of his show title, Keyes offers, “Migration and displacement were ideas that continued to surface in my mind while I was painting these images. I was thinking about the effects of climate change and the way some ecosystems that thrive in a specific range of temperatures — like polar or tropical climates —are experiencing a shrinking of their boundaries. Ecosystems that were separate are now slowly merging and overlapping one another, causing disruptions in the food web and increased competition for food and space among species. Some become displaced and are forced to migrate, in order to survive.”
Levine’s exhibit Press Release continues that: Keyes’ imagery in this exhibition pushes the potential consequences of ecosystem clashing to a climax that wavers on the surreal. A bright orange tiger rests contently on top of a graffiti covered dumpster, staring intensely at a pack of wolves, scavenging whitetail deer scraps from the tiger’s morning hunt. Below the smooth floodwater surface, glides a great white shark. A pair of giant pandas, marooned on a submerged jeep, watch with curiosity as the shark’s fin circles by. Deer, elk, wolves and other animals form a stampeding herd, charging through a city street, leaving upturned cars and ruptured pavement in their frenzied wake.
I liked the way Keyes’ paintings encourage imaginative extrapolation in the viewer while combining visual beauty with a sense of foreboding and dread. The story they hint at reminded me a bit of a film I saw not too long ago called The Last Winter, which I highly recommend adding to your Netflix queue. Something I had not seen before at a gallery opening was a formal, organized line of fans waiting to meet Josh, that snaked through Levine’s rear gallery – a line which I waited in for 20 minutes just so I could say Hi to Josh and get him to sign one of his cards. Josh was super nice and took the time to meet and sign stuff for everyone who was waiting – very cool! Also spotted in the packed gallery were notable local artists Michael Fumero, Beau Stanton and Dima Drjuchin, all of whom appeared to be really digging the show. You can read more about Josh Keyes and see additional pictures from the exhibit at This Link.
Josh Keyes’ Migration Runs through November 19, 2011 at the Jonathan Levine Gallery, located at 529 West 20th Street, 9th Floor (West of 10th Avenue) in New York. Gallery Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11 AM to 6 PM.