Kevin Christy: Memories are Weapons
February 18 through March 28, 2021
By ALFRED ROSENBLUTH, March 2021
Now on view at the Hole, Kevin Christy’s solo exhibit, “Memories are Weapons”, presents a selection of works executed under the consistent observance of quarantine during the now-past year of two thousand twenty. Christy’s paintings present us with surreal metaphors of the artist’s personal reflections on past experiences; although autobiographic, these paintings’ quiet and strange imagery nonetheless presents an opacity of meaning which places the artist outside the viewer’s awareness and endows them with a more transpersonal relevance. We had the opportunity to speak with Kevin and gain an appreciation for what thoughts orbited the occluded foundations for the paintings which now haunt this space.
ALFRED ROSENBLUTH: What's relevant to you about the subjective experience of memory?
KEVIN CHRISTY: It’s just another example of the malleability of perception. I think we can subjectively experience the present as easily as we can experience the past inaccurately, or as a subjective means to serve our own ends. After a while, memories just become stories you tell yourself, and the accuracy is a pretty unchecked power. “Memories are weapons” is about how you use your memories. They’re uncategorized, dormant stimulus until they inspire some kind of action.
AF: What do you wish for this show to impart to your audience?
KC: I’m mostly hoping they get transported to a specific personal place while looking at the images. If anything, I’m trying to re-impart their own memories to them in a different way then they’d imagined. Connectivity inside chaos is what interests me the most about people interacting with the work.
AF: Were you presented with any surprising formal obstacles when resolving your paintings’ imagery?
KC: The paintings are relatively small, so anytime you’re trying to resolve a small space you run into a challenge of hierarchy. I can only put so much into the frame and lots of tiny elements doesn’t interest me. So I do have to try to boil each image down to just the parts that are totally essential. It’s tricky. There are elements that are decorative, but for the most part there just isn’t a lot of space for anything extra.
AF: Has working in television influenced your concerns as a painter to any degree?
KC: I think working in film/tv has to a certain extent made me interested in finding the tiny moments within larger events that are maybe unnoticed. Every big scene is just a bunch of smaller moments put together, so I’m trying to pull the smaller scenes out and focus on them. I’m not sure I would have been as interested in that if I hadn’t seen the bricklaying like process of putting together scenes etc.
AF: Any thoughts on the significance of hands in your work?
KC: I think I find them interesting because hands are one of the parts of the body you have a lot of control over. They’re as expressive as they are tool like. Hands are like the last part of a physical decision. You’ve finished imagining what you’re going to do and then your hands have the responsibility to execute the thing. They’re also kind of like giant half spiders that hang at the bottom of your arms and are in charge of putting food in your mouth and that’s basically disgusting.
AF: Are there any paintings in this show you were particularly pleased with?
KC: I like “squatters rights” maybe the most. It was one of the last ones and was rolling around my head for a long time. It came out the closest to how I pictured it beforehand, so when I was finally finished with it, I felt as satisfied as I’ll let myself. It’s difficult. Once they’re done they kind of don’t feel like their mine anymore anyways. When I look at them I mainly think about the time making them more than I look at them as images. I can get very separated from an image if I haven’t looked at it for a long time. It’s like I didn’t make it. It just exists somehow and I don’t really remember how.
AF: Did this show leave you with any promising ideas for future works?
KC: The images that are linked to one another were interesting to me to keep going with. Common experiences between people with no connections interest me, so I think I’ll probably make more work that addresses that. I like that people are having the same ideas all over the place. The discovery of someone thinking similarly is nice, especially when you have no relationship with the person. It’s like when you randomly wear the same shirt as someone and see each other in public. Overcoming those numeric odds while expressing your own visual language is a fun idea to think about. It’s almost familial. WM