Monday, April 07, 2014

Stand up mike

Just when you thought you'd seen your most extravagant claim by an art museum, there's the introductory text for Mike Kelley at the MoCA in LA. Yes, he's the “most influential artist of our time”. It seemed that marketing had got over excited again but after half an hour in the exhibition maybe some humble pie.

At least a couple of generations of art students have been shadowed by Kelly’s outpouring of foreboding and irony with his avid adoption of materials. This exhibition is like meeting a parent of people you know really well. There’s the likeness staring straight at you, even if the features have been shuffled about a bit when it comes to the kid. And this is an American family we're talking about. There’s a lot of stuff lost in translation. Kelley's work is so saturated in the neurotic soup he makes of American culture that it feels peculiarly local for such a globally influential artist. That any of this came as a revelation says something for the insipid contemporary diet served up by our public museums over the last thirty or so years. To think such a major force was surging through our art schools and there has never been an exhibition large or small of Kelley’s work in New Zealand for the rest of us.

Image: Mike Kelley at MoCA