USM Art Galleries Gorham and Portland

2011 - Obstruction, Joe Kievitt

Kievitt Obtruction

Obstruction (1 of 3)
Joe Kievitt
For University of Southern Maine
Abromson Center, USM Portland Campus

Joe Kievitt (2011)

My work explores abstract geometric patterning within particular spatial situations, which I presently investigate through drawings with ink and acrylic on paper. With each drawing, I establish a predetermined formal structure to allow for unforeseen results to emerge. My approach stems from a long tradition of chance aesthetics (or chance procedures) employed by artists such as Hans Arp, Ellsworth Kelly, Sol Le Witt, James Siena, and Bernard Frize.

Predetermined parameters have, for some time, been something I have used for constructing images, but until recently it has been solely in my head. Through increased familiarity with various artists using algorithms to allow their work to unfold I have begun thinking of the use of algorithms as not only a means to an end but as a defining aspect of the work.

I begin each drawing by constructing a number of preliminary sketches as a means for refining and redefining the scale, composition, and parameters. Once these ideas are developed, I set up a framework with predetermined mark-making and color choices that allow for the final drawing to emerge.

With the framework in place, I slowly build up the imagery by isolating areas with tape and applying washes of ink and paint with a brush.  The tape is cut to different widths with a custom-made tool using a pivoting blade that cuts a spinning roll of tape. The drawings are possible through, and greatly dictated by, the use of this tool – further exploring my use of chance procedures through the implementation of a mechanical device. The final product of this process cannot be fully determined until the tape is removed and the marks are revealed within the context of the whole image.

The process of making my drawings involves systematic methodologies – the use of a straight edge, and precise masking of painted areas – but my drawings are very different from a digital/vector image. Each action, although aided with tools, is done by hand and the innate imperfections of the human hand are evident when viewed closely. By avoiding process shot cuts and working with the unforgiving medium of liquid paint on paper, I set myself up for potential failures. This has become a defining aspect of my drawings and creates a certain feeling of anxiety that operates often against a sense of calm created by my palette choices.

                                                –Joe Kievitt