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Kerry Law – Artist Feature

“Cemetery Still Life, 1956” oil on canvas 2018 18”x24”
“Cemetery Still Life, 1956” oil on canvas 2018 18”x24”

Kerry Law – Stacking paint and mortality

There is an endearing seriality about Kerry Law’s painting practice. He is committed to his subjects and often works in isolated bodies of work until he has pushed the idea and subject as far as he can or can stand to. He must care about the subjects to paint them so often in isolated bodies of work – but he doesn’t fuss with them. Instead, he plays with what paint can do in different temperaments and attitudes.

I’m most curious – at the moment with Kerry’s proclivity towards painting graveyards and tombstones. This may sound morbid or didactic but it’s sweet, soft, playful, sometimes graphic and like all of Kerry’s work, about much more than the subject.

“Rest in Peace” oil and fibered aluminum roof coating on canvas 2018 18”x24″

Kerry is using the form of a gravestone and a graveyard to connect with the future, history and mortality. He does this while also channeling art history and building his own sweet, funny yet hard to face body of work about what happens when we pass on.

Law’s painting’s make me wonder how an artist can paint about fate, mortality, figure foreground, Phillip Guston and Bonnard at the same time. The simplification and the stacking of the tombstone create compositions not interested in real physical space – but interested in connection.

The tombstones often hover on or near each-other – in real life, this is stressful and heartbreaking but in these paintings the stacking forces me to think only of color, of art history, and of painting. That isn’t easy – it’s difficult. Additionally, Kerry hasn’t found a compositional formula to cling to. Each painting answers it’s own question, speaks to a time period that references the likes of Guston, Morandi and Bonnard. It connects the past in such a generous way – you forget it’s a painting about a tombstone.

“Bonnard’s Boneyard” oil on canvas 2018 30”x30”

The paintings Kerry is currently working on are very much alive despite the tombstone’s signifier – death. They are not dying – they are growing and connecting grief and pleasure on the surface of a canvas.

Kerry Law is a painter based in Brooklyn, New York. At this point, I can’t remember how I first stumbled on his paintings – all I know is that I value them for their singularity and their ability to connect what he notices so that others can latch on and care too.

What I love most about Kerry’s work is that it is so open because it is so committed. This is something hard to do in a world of seemingly endless options. Kerry persists in his curiosity but with intention and a solid ground in painting logic and intuition to depart from. It is exciting and reminds me how important it is to commit and to not waver in one’s observations.

I urge you to follow Kerry and his paintings along.

Kerry Law Website:

Kerry Law Instagram: @kerrylawart