Mitchell Kehe
16 February – 13 April 2024
Sourdough
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Untitled 1 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic and PU enamel on synthetic fabric, 240 × 135 cm
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Untitled 2 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic and PU enamel on synthetic fabric, 240 × 135 cm
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Untitled 3 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic, oil, color pencil, pastel, and enamel on synthetic fabric, 130 × 190 cm
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Untitled 4 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic, oil, color pencil, pastel, and enamel on synthetic fabric, 180 × 130 cm
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Untitled 5 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic, oil, and color pencil on synthetic fabric, 170 × 135 cm
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Untitled 6 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic and color pencil on synthetic fabric, 130 × 170 cm
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Untitled 7 (Sourdough), 2024, Acrylic, oil, enamel, charcoal and collage on polyester, 50 × 40 cm
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Untitled 8 (Sourdough), 2023, Acrylic and PU enamel on synthetic fabric, 130 × 130 cm
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Untitled 9 (Sourdough), 2023, Acrylic, pastel, color pencil, charcoal and enamel on synthetic fabric, 90 × 70 cm
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Animal-like and botanical, amorphous and anatomical, symmetrical and off-kilter, the multiple layers of Mitchell Kehe’s works carry a protean potential that allows them to take on a variety of shapes and forms. Most are made on synthetic fabrics which often already have something going on, a significant texture, pattern, transparency, dirt, wear and tear, stains etc. What’s applied to these fabrics includes traditional mediums like acrylic and oil paint but also high gloss metal enamel, flocking, PVA glue, tape and occasionally small objects. With layers upon layers varying in texture, thickness and opacity, these works hold much more than is revealed in a customary head-on examination of a flat image. The physical presence of the object seems to carry more importance than a typical reading of the content of the image.

The surfaces, often stretched and unstretched repeatedly, carrying signs of wear and tear, are what embeds those compositions in the world in a different way: not only as objects but as its elements. They feel less like floating images in the vacuum of a gallery space and more like objects extruded through a life, carrying a multitude of identities while dodging any single reading.

Seldom bearing titles and frequently shifting shapes, still, Kehe’s works are no riddles. They also carry a healthy load of humor and playfulness. Take some of the titles of his exhibitions: All the World’s Organs’, ‘Who’s the Best at Believing’, ‘The Difference Between Building and Growth,’ and now, ‘Sourdough’. Kehe’s works can be seen as organisms: brought into the world and let loose to roam it. And as organisms that are essentially alien, they can only be observed, much less understood. An attempt at getting to the bottom of their existence as images, or at creating a viable taxonomy of those organisms is, as the joke has it, “like explaining Norway to a dog”. They are a celebration of the essence of abstraction and an exercise in engaging in the unknown.

There is, however, something unsettling, if not ominous, to confronting those nameless entities. Brought into existence using mass-produced, non-organic – yet for the most part widely-available – materials, they are both familiar and anomalous. A stirring reminder that we have perhaps all but lost the confidence, and the comfort, of knowing what constitutes the basic fabric of our reality.


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