Painting for Denis Kelly is rigour of thought and action. Each element of his art is meditated with rationality and a meticulous description of forms following Kazimir Malevič’s Suprematist criteria, whose purpose was to find a path leading to the essence of art: geometrical abstraction. These kind of works, if glimpsed, may appear as a pure geometric exercise, on the contrary, they hide compositional complexity that seek in the tonal balance and equilibrium of forms a spatial illusion. For Kelly, therefore, it is important to reach the essence of the image, which must be a composition of clear signs, simply and easily recognised, borrowing the aphorism of the famous architect of the Bauhaus, Mies van der Rohe: “less is more”.
The contours suggested by cross-planes of geometrical shapes are intuited thanks to Kelly’s clever use of colour. These geometrical compositions are used by the artist to create patterns whose “neoplasticism presents a truly free rhythm of form: a universal rhythm”, according to the painter Mondrian, member of De Stijl artistic movement. In addition, Denis Kelly’s art is enriched with new and unusual materials – plywood veneer, protective packaging waste from imported building materials – that become his pictorial surface, thus a part of the world enters each of his works.
In this Kelly deviates from the Suprematist and Neoplasticist movements, as to the perfection of the surface and the coloristic forms he prefers to introduce chance, a striking element in contradiction with pictorial perfection. This extraneous element is sometimes embossed on industrial wood, which he uses as a support for his paintings, or else he himself creates it as an irreverent phenomenon directed towards the observer, whose gaze is surely captured by an “impeccable defect”. The artist plays on these strident elements that suggest the image, and captures the attention by allowing the viewer to fulfil his agent role by interacting with form through an adaptive visual perception of a gestalt matrix of representation. Kelly’s pictorial accuracy – made up of volumetric sub-patterns of stretched-out colour that accentuate the luminary and spatial systems – is altered by the introduction of clear and expressive signs that allow him to go beyond the boundaries of minimalism to access a personified dimension of painting.
Author’s translation of «neoplasticismo presenta un ritmo veramente libero dalla forma: un ritmo universale» from Piet Mondrian, Ritmi universali, 2014.
Denis Kelly, Impeccable defect (18th – 21st October 2017, Pallas Projects/Studios, Dublin IE).