An interview with Andy Kehoe
Thinkspace is proud to present ‘The World Unseen and Those In Between’, the second solo show at our gallery from Portland based artist Andy Kehoe. This will be the first solo exhibition with the artist in our main gallery space, following ‘Into the Forest of Broken Dreams’, which took place in our project room in the fall of 2007. ‘The World Unseen and Those In Between’ marks Kehoe’s biggest west coast exhibition to date.
This new series of oil and acrylic paintings on wood panel serve as an outlet for the artist to express his feelings of unrest and anxiety in this all too unstable world we live. Kehoe’s soft and enticing palette of autumnal colors provides the foundation for his work and allows the artist to explore his world view via the sincere human emotion that’s so prevalent in his timeless works. The beautiful yet desolate landscapes present in much of his work serve to capture the essence of human loneliness and the longing for a simpler time. Viewing his characters in their allegorical compositions brings one to think of how tiny we truly are compared with the vastness of mothernature. Much like the comics of his youth, Kehoe’s work is rich with undertones of unease and violence, yet this is all somehow masked by the artist’s talent for creating seemingly peaceful and serene scenes set in nature that hint at the mysteries of the unknown.
“Kehoe’s paintings have become synonymous with the autumn spirit.” – Arrested Motion
Please talk a lil’ bit about the general idea/vibe behind your new series of works for “The World Unseen…“? What’s the story with the show’s title?
I’ve been flirting with the spirit world in recent shows and I decided to do a show solely focused on it. I’ve never really done a show with such a defined theme before so it’s been fun. This show is all about ghosts and spirits and also about forces that exist behind life. There are also a good number of creatures that live between both worlds and these are the ones I really love talking to… I mean painting.
Why the woods as such a focal point in your work? What’s the significance of the lil’ horned man in the dapper tweed coat? Does he represent a sort of every man in your paintings going up against the hardships and obstacles of life?
I grew up reading a lot of fairy tales and most of these tales harken back to less technological times for sure. A lot of stories were set in the woods, so the woods have always seemed like a place of mystery. Living in the city is a little stifling sometimes since everything is so controlled and regulated. The streets of the city are like a rule book. Don’t walk here. Walk here. Stop at that light. Go at that light. No drinking here, only here. No smoking here. Don’t piss on that wall. Don’t fire your gun out the window of your car while doing donuts in the middle of a crowded intersection. Ridiculous. So it’s nice to go where things are a little more wild and you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want. I can shoot a gun, piss on a tree, chug whiskey and walk anywhere I want in the woods. In that respect, I prefer having an environment in my paintings that are unrestricted and wild. The guy in the tweed coat definitely is the normal guy trying to make sense of the world. He didn’t make it around this show I don’t think. He also gets beat up a lot which is both sad and funny to me.
What was it like growing up with your twin brother, Ben Kehoe (also an artist)? That had to be a pretty creative and interesting household. What’s your earliest memory of creating alongside him?
It’s an awesome thing when you’re basically born with your best friend. When it came to art, we were always doodling and came up with some crazy comics when we were a bit older. The main comic was about a bunch of rodents that were in the mafia. They became pretty insane towards the end and progressively more twisted and violent. Ben’s were worse than mine. We were looking at our old comics a while back and Ben and I were cracking up. There were cat heads exploding and cat people being shot to ribbons. (The cat gang was a rival of our rodent gang.) Our friend was looking at them as well and said. “Man. I don’t know. These are kind of f*cked up.” Haha. So yeah, having fun like that growing up definitely made art a constant in our lives.
Why the recent move to Portland from Pittsburg? Has the change of atmosphere and surroundings influenced your work you think?
I’ve lived on the east coast my whole life so I wanted to try out a different time zone. I’m not getting any younger so I decided it was time to explore the west and try it out while I could. The places I see and the people I meet deeply effect how my work evolves out so I thought it would be awesome to see how it turned out in a place so far and foreign. I didn’t even visit Portland before I decided to move here. It’s been awesome so far and I’ve definitely had experiences here that I never would’ve had if I stayed in Pittsburgh. But I do miss Pittsburgh and being out east, so I’ll probably migrate back that way some day.
How is it to have a studio mate (Evan B. Harris)? You didn’t have a studio mate back in Pittsburgh I don’t think…
Having a studio mate is pretty awesome and I think it motivates both of us more. It’s nice to see what someone else is up to with their work and disconnect from your own world for a bit. It’s good to take a break from your own head. We’ve been listening to a lot of audio books in the studio and it really passes the time and gets the imagination going. We’re on the fifth Harry Potter book at the moment. Plus it’s been great having a studio that’s outside of my house. The separation of work and normal life has been really beneficial since work tends to consume my thoughts. Now I work more when I’m away from the distractions of home and I can relax a bit more when I’m home. When I was in Pittsburgh, my brother and I both worked out of the living room. We’ll definitely share a proper studio one day.
If you had an unlimited budget and time was not an issue, what grand artistic vision would you look to bring to life?
I would make an animated movie for sure. I see most of my work in motion and being animated as I’m painting it… or maybe that just the copious amounts of angel dust and LSD I take.
What do you consider your biggest overall influence?
Angel dust and LSD.
What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland? What do you miss most about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh definitely makes better hoagies than Portland.
What have you got coming up in terms of shows after your solo show with us?
I’ve got a couple pieces going in the Jonathan LeVine Gallery fifth year anniverary show coming up in February. After that, I have a show in London in May, a couple group shows and my next solo show at LeVine is scheduled for early 2011. Looking good.
Check out the works featured in ‘The World Unseen and Those In Between’ here:
Please shoot a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in any of the works in the show.
‘The World Unseen and Those In Between’ featuring new works and an installation from Andy Kehoe
Fri, Dec. 11th 7-11PM
4210 Santa Monica Blvd (near Sunset Junction in Silver Lake area of LA)