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Art Dialogue: The Brothers Show

"Forgiven", by Kevin Kegler

Two artists are exhibiting their work together for the first time at the same gallery, the Art Dialogue Gallery here in Buffalo. The fact that the two artists are brothers to each other makes this show singularly interesting. The precise, elegant still-life paintings of Thomas and Kevin Kegler’s work probes ephemeral solutions in hardware assemblage. In these dual presentations, a viewer may sense an aesthetic version of the hunter/gatherer clan. Historically about half the great art generated by mankind is dedicated to the accurate transcription of the sensible world. Perhaps the modern amendment to this striving for the mastery of nature by convincing imitation is to address the problem of maintaining the intensity of the painting while getting at some kind of truth between the known fact and the dextrous use of tools in pursuing the artist’s aims. Thomas Kegler works his pursuit in rich densities of silver-grey and hues of sienna sinuously painted on linen. The frames especially are suffused in antique patinas of lustrous brown contrasting handsomely with the nature morte subject matter —mostly items one would find on a Hepplewhite sideboard circa 1870: eggs on a plate, orange peels on a plate, grapes, and wilting flowers on a fine lace tablecloth. These are traditional subjects presented in satisfying arrangements, often with a Rembrandtian glissado of white, depicting the lived experience of space and the objects in it with characteristically memetic force.

Kevin Kegler is the dogged hunter of fascinations. In his work the viewer is often faced with stretching the limits of information capacity and information resolution, and nothing Kegler does remains ordinary or uncomplicated. His glassed-in assemblages are meditative, metaphorical, and mercurial all at once with both teasing and bracing emotional resonance. They suggest a kind of intermediary state between thinking and physically holding things in one’s hands. A viewer must bring an imaginative awareness to seeing these workman-like tableaux. Such objects as honey combs, toy guns, bird parts, and fishhooks must be filtered thru the myriad hyphenations of the visual unconscious in order to establish an insistent presence. In using castaway, pre-formed, found objects Kegler anticipates their dereliction and yet arranges them as if they wore part of the crown jewels. Both brothers appear to feel secure in the strength of their idiom; in one, the terminal validity of the still-life scene and in the other fixed material outcomes—the alchemic residue of fathoming the laments of humanity.

The third component in this theme show is a theme in itself. Mark Dennis Zahm en face portraits in graphite pencil are of families of brothers. Each set of siblings is framed and grouped together and worked so astutely in facture that photography could not improve them. Rendered in the manner of the 19th century pre-impressionist French artist Ingre, these portraits invite the viewer to inspect each individual for the linking of family traits of physicality; the furrow of brow, ear formation, nose, the cast of a gaze, and especially the arrangement of hair—a particularly fine aspect of the artist’s illustration. His subjects appear at ease in affect and of unguarded mien.

j. tim raymond

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