Superman's city seen by the artist Mike Kelley
New York gallery Hauser & Wirth is paying homage to artist Mike Kelley with a retrospective of his disconcerting Kandor works, which take inspiration from the fictional birthplace of Superman.
Mike Kelley (1954–2012) remains one of the most emblematic figures on the American art scene precisely because his work talks about America itself, about its myths and its popular culture, but also about religion, sex, politics, psychoanalysis and much much more. Indeed it’s difficult to take an overview of his oeuvre since it deals with so many different themes.
At its first Mike Kelley exhibition, New York gallery Hauser & Wirth has chosen to show the most fascinating pieces from his Kandor series, which are named after the mythic birthplace of Superman on the planet Krypton. As was his wont, Kelley reworked popular American imagery – in this case the comic strip – so as to take it towards darker, more perverse territory where he could explore the themes of loss, destruction and mourning. Mixing “high” and “low” culture, the sacred and the profane, the comic and the tragic, his pieces –installations, sculptures, paintings, videos and photos – take aesthetic conventions by storm, throwing them completely off balance. The works on show at Hauser & Wirth also allow visitors to admire Kelley’s formal experimentation as he plays with colour, light and scale.
Mike Kelley at Hauser & Wirth in New York, until 24 October. www.hauserwirth.com
By Thibaut Wychowanok
Mike Kelley, City 17, 2011, 213.4 x 41.9 (diam.) cm / 84 x 16 1/2 (diam.).