The Artists "Review" Artists Project was launched on June 30, 2008. Below is a "review" of Ken Weathersby's work, 157(J), written by Pam Farrell. Ken provided the second jpeg, an image of 153 (murder of abel), as well as a brief response to Pam's "review."
Ken currently resides in Montclair, NJ and Pam lives in Hunterdon County, NJ.
If you would like to participate in this project, please email me at jtkirkland [at] gmail [dot] com.
acrylic on canvas with removed and reversed area
36" x 24"
My first response to 157(J), was that I really wished I were able to view the actual painting. But since we’re all in this together, and it’s what I signed up for, I will soldier on, so to speak. This painting is acrylic on canvas, with a cut-out of the canvas removed and reversed. The overall field is comprised of a checkerboard of tiny black and white squares with a large, curvilinear, somewhat biomorphic cutout situated in the center. The cutout reveals a board and braces, in other words, the inside of the back, with large braces placed at right angles, and smaller braces at diagonal angles. Around the inside of the outer edges of the cutout appears the reverse of the removed canvas, positioned against the wood panel. The dizzying, graphic black-and-white checkerboard plays against the prosaic raw wood in a jarring contrast, further complicated by the organic cutout, which challenges the viewer to make sense of the seemingly unrelated array of elements.
The exercise of describing the painting underscores its enigmatic and convoluted nature. The viewer is afforded a glimpse into what is so very elusive—the mystery of what’s behind the painting, or perhaps a peek at the artist’s secrets that impel and inspire creativity. This is voyeurism taken to a new level, because while we are teased into thinking we are about to gain secret knowledge from the inner workings of the artist, what is revealed is only what has been removed and the wood construction providing support. What makes this even more complicated, and a bit ironic, is that nothing is known about the artist of this piece, nothing revealed by its title; it is removed from the context of personal history and related works. This is true of course of all the works in this Artists “Review” Artists project, but with 157(J), it heightens its mystery, and amplifies its deadpan, “straight man” delivery of the punch line. For one can view this as a sort of joke on us, the viewers. We are implicated in this caper by wanting to know the unknown. This painting works on several levels. It is balanced by its deceptively simple formal elements, which are unified by contrasts. A high level of craft, material integrity, and forethought is evident in the construction and execution of the painting. Conceptually, the enigmatic 157(J) presents a riddle and a solution, a question and an answer, at the same time--sort of. But the artist has the last laugh; the pieces of removed canvas, reversed in their placement against the wood backing, reveal nothing to the viewer, only to the artist.
By Pam Farrell
It's interesting to see someone respond to my painting with minimal points of reference. She pointed to issues specific to this piece and identified some of my driving interests. I like what she wrote. I object only to the notion of the artist playing a joke on the viewer—it’s important to me that the structures of these paintings are graspable to the viewer in principle (more so in person, as she guessed), even if the thinking and resulting forms are strange. Sometimes I find them funny, but not a joke on the viewer.