Twenty New Things
by Ken Kewley

March 30-May 1, 2015

(View 15 images)



“Perception and invention must work together,” writes artist Ken Kewley. “The landscape is the dictionary, not the poem.”

The Helzer Art Gallery is proud to host this exhibit of twenty new mixed media paintings and collages by Pennsylvania artist Ken Kewley. The works in this show present a series of variations on the theme of the model in the interior from the naturalistic to the abstract and poetic; they are as much about the pleasure and challenge of looking as they are about the invention of color, shape and line to express that pleasure. The works are flat, with paint applied in stamps or in cut out, collaged shapes, affirming a strong belief in abstraction as an equivalent of the experience of looking, rather than an illustration of it. Kewley writes in his essay, “Notes on Painting”:

Going towards abstraction does not mean going away from representation, from realism. It is more like describing something real by other means than illustration. It is like describing an apple with your hands, forming the shape in the air with your hands…. You do not try to make your hand look like an apple. Paint takes over the role of the hands and does not hide the fact that it is paint. Painting is talking with the hands made permanent.

“Talking with the hands” in paint brings the structure of the world to the surface. But although Kewley’s language as a painter owes something to cubism, it is richly sensual cubism with some very sexy forms (just stand in the doorway and look at the three images on the far wall). Kewley is no theoretician. “It is the love that comes through when the mind gets out of the way. The mind messes up love and it messes up painting,” he writes. “The more exciting the abstraction the more exciting the painting and it then follows that the whole will be closer to the excitement of reality.”

Ken Kewley studied at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and at the New York Studio School (with Stanley Lewis). For ten years he was night watchman at the Metropolitan Museum, an experience that brought him into intimate connection to the art of the past. He currently teaches at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is a visiting artist throughout the United States, as well as in Italy and Israel. He has upcoming shows at Gross McCleaf (Philadelphia) and Kentucky School of Art (Louisville). He is represented by Rothschild Fine Art (Tel Aviv).

Ken Kewley will give an artist’s talk on April 23 at 2pm in the Rock Creek Forum with a reception in the gallery to follow. All are invited.

--Mark Andres, guest curator

Please join us for an artist's talk at 2:00 PM on Thursday, April 23 in the Forum of Building 3 at Rock Creek.

The Rock Creek gallery is open Monday- Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. The gallery is located in Building 3 of the Rock Creek Campus of Portland Community College at 17705 NW Springville Road, Portland.

For more information contact Prudence Roberts at

Prudence Roberts
Director, Helzer Art Gallery



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