Louis Stern Fine Arts is pleased to present “Kellyann Burns: Form, Color, Surface.” In her first solo exhibition in Los Angeles and first with the gallery, this presentation of recent painting, collage, and sculpture manifests a mature artist’s focused intention and superlative use of materials. These muscular works make a powerful first impression yet reward deeper examination, revealing themselves to the patient observer as thoughtful meditations on the passage of time and the inexorable pull of erosion on a constructed world.
The crux of Burns’ work lies in her process. Burns considers her paintings to be essentially compressed sculpture: “working three-dimensionally on a two-dimensional plane.” Painting on aluminum dibond plates, she methodically layers complex geometric strata in vivid oils, then burrows back into the hidden surfaces by selectively sanding each coat as it dries. Each painting is an archaeological wonder, with every rich vein informing and providing foundation for the next. The intricate histories of these paintings lie waiting to be discovered, like a buried treasure: just the right light might reveal the ghost of a submerged shape, and delving below the surface through as many as sixty layers of paint gives one the sensation of traveling backward in time.
Upon completion, the artist bequeaths each painting with its title – the exact time and date it was finished – sealing the work like the lid of a time capsule. Burns does not consider a work complete until she is satisfied with the composition in all four directions, such that it can be displayed in any orientation. This ambiguity provides the opportunity to construct a personal relationship with the artist’s work, informed by individual impression and experience.
Also on display are the artist’s recent forays into sculpture, in which Burns’ painting sensibility flexes a new three-dimensional vocabulary. These playful constructions investigate the physical properties of disparate elements and showcase the artist’s love of architecture and design, fusing synthetic and natural materials with the elegant curves of an Eames chair or the rigid geometry of a brutalist structure in miniature.
Burns’ collages, which feature the sandpaper and rags used to create her paintings, keep her working process center stage. Jewel-bright sandpaper scraps, drenched with her saturated colors, tumble together with plaids and calicos; remnants of tea towels or old pajamas, they are granted new life as tools, then once again as works of art themselves. These intimate collages make apparent the respect the artist holds for her instruments and her gratitude for their service.
Works by Kellyann Burns are included in numerous corporate and public collections. She is a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant recipient and has received fellowships from many institutions including Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony, and Ucross. Burns has lectured to students from The Rhode Island School of Design, Cornell and CUNY and has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Wisconsin and Dankook University in Seoul, Korea. Her work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Artnews, and Hyperallergic, among others.