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Want Everything: Recent Work by Felice Koenig and Kevin Kegler at Indigo Art
by Patricia Pendleton
Field of Longing
Open to it all, Kevin Kegler and Felice Koenig create objects that evoke mystery and wonder. One year ago, I noticed how well her painting harmonized with his sculpture in the booth that they occupied together at the Echo Fair. On view now is a selection of their individual works, along with several new collaborative pieces that meld together their distinctive processes. There is endless fascination with art couples through history—Georgia O’Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner. Mutual influence is inevitable. While others such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude are known entirely for their site-specific installations, most creative duos that come to mind pursue separate bodies of work, but the cross-pollination remains evident. I think of Nancy Spero and Leon Golub, Cindy Sherman and David Byrne (for awhile), Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Of course, there are many others.
Koenig has cultivated an approach that she describes as “a meditation on obsessive gesture” in an offering of energy and effort. She dots layers of acrylic color to wood squares and polystyrene spheres (formed as rings, convex and concave disks) to achieve a tactile luminous surface. The process results in seductive wall pieces that pulsate with liveliness. The contemplative objects are titled to express an inspired quality, such as the large moonlike silvery orb called “Ocean of Possibility.” The circular forms are primordial symbols of totality—the micro-circular dots of color mirror that connection. A close look reveals subtle activity humming on the surface.
Kegler views his constructions of wood and metal as representative of evolving relationships—the balance between masculine and feminine. The large piece featured in the front of the gallery is an over-sized version of a kite winder made decades earlier by his grandfather. There is a trace of this heritage in Kegler’s materials and methods. His human-scale objects invite interaction. The moving parts suggest functionality. He favors wheels, interlocking segments, and lovingly refined surfaces. The artist’s free-standing objects are neutral, earthy, and purposeful with just a rare bit of color, such as a bold red wheel in Pregnant or The time when the particle you are returns from where it came. His titles are phrases that hold small stories. The one called Flirtation with Surrender leans in a far corner. Mounted on a small wheel, a sensuous white molded female form is topped with a house-shaped head. These movable structures suggest vehicles poised for takeoff.
Both artists are faculty at Daemen College. Each has investigated their chosen medium for a length of time. The collaborative process began when Kegler crafted a few small palm-size wood objects slightly larger than an egg. He gave them to Koenig and asked if she might wish to paint them. Several pairs of these forms are intimately displayed next to one another. The K and K collaboration expands to include larger forms that combine her painting on his forms inserted with bare wood stems, such as Star Casting or Ocean Paddle. The collaborative titles include input from both. For example, one of the small pairs includes an affectionate name that Koenig intuitively assigned along with Kegler’s more wordy phrase: Tickles or You can’t imagine what just happened.
During the artist talk, Koenig mentioned how it did not take long for the small sculptures to become anthropomorphical objects that stirred her emotions. This is essentially the function of art across cultures. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung stated this truth when he wrote: “The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” Philosopher, Susan Sontag referred to her library of eight thousand books as “my archive of longing.” This exhibition is a playful field of longing devoid of grasping imagery. Feel your way into. Take a walk through the field. Experience the material presence—see what happens.
The exhibition at indigoartbuffalo.com will remain on view through October 4.
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Issue Navigation> Issue Index > v13n39 (Week of Thursday, September 25) > Art Scene > Want Everything: Recent Work by Felice Koenig and Kevin Kegler at Indigo Art
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