Kent State University's Downtown Gallery Presents “Recent Work”
Kent State University’s Downtown Gallery will present “Recent Work,” an exhibition by Paul O’Keeffe that will run through March 9 in the Downtown Gallery.
O'Keeffe's work over the past decade is situated in two strains of thinking about contemporary practice that tends to be seen as oppositional, but that he wants to put into play. First, there is the effort, characteristic of late modernism, to remove the work from narrative. Color, form and materials are used in such a way as to defy the viewer’s desire to make meaning of the work apart from the immediate encounter with the form.
His recent work is similarly about this first moment of engagement. The pieces are large, the colors are somewhat jarring and there are few immediate clues as to the meaning of the work. It is the corporeal experience that first impresses. Intense fluorescent hues often destabilize the form and make an overall image difficult to grasp. At the same time, there are indicators that encourage a more analytical approach, and that therefore move the work beyond the phenomenological. The titles of the works, somewhat obscure, might be apparent to fans of late 70s bands like The Jam, Gang of Four and Suicide, music that emerged contemporaneously with the decline of the modernist era.
O’Keeffe was born in Dublin, Ireland. As an undergraduate student, he attended St. Martin’s School of Art, London, and the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. He received an M.F.A. from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1981. He joined the faculty of Kent State University in 1983 where he is currently a professor. He has had numerous solo and group exhibitions both in the United States and abroad, including exhibitions in New York, Los Angeles, Paris and Dublin. His most recent solo exhibition was held last October at 21 Street Projects, New York.
O’Keeffe is the recipient of a number of awards and honors including a Fulbright Fellowship, a Ford Foundation grant, an Arts Midwest/National Endowment for the Arts Award and several awards from the Arts Council of Ireland. The Ohio Arts Council has awarded him an Individual Excellence Award for 2013, and marks the 11th time he has been honored with this award. O’Keeffe’s work is represented in many public and private collections including The Arts Council of Ireland; Bayer USA, Pittsburgh; Progressive Insurance, Cleveland; Kaiser Permanante, Cleveland; and the Cleveland Public Library.
The Downtown Gallery is located at 141 E. Main St. in downtown Kent. Hours are Wednesday through Friday, noon to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 330-676-1549 or visit http://galleries.kent.edu.