My paintings, drawings and installations operate at the juncture where human nature and mother nature collide. Combining order and symmetry with chance and the uncontrollable, I strive to create a symbiosis between the two. Relentlessly, I search for clues as to how opposing elements work together. In nature, contradiction and collaboration live side by side with an understanding that both are vital. My daily excursions into the untouched natural world provide me with an acute awareness of the components at work there. Drawing on these experiences, light, shadow, organic forms and layering are incorporated into my work. Yet, I am most interested in the synergy of contrasts and the consequences of human intervention. In the crevices of the industrial, urban landscape and the subtle social interactions of humans, I discover elements I want to integrate into each painting and installation. My objective is to build an ‘environment’, a vista formed on the basis of collaborative contrast and embedded with human perceptions.
Lisa Kellner has been creating and exhibiting her paintings, drawing and installations throughout the United States since 2006. Her inaugural public exhibitions included a large scale installation curated by Washington Project for the Arts in DC and a site-specific four room installation curated by Transformer Gallery, also in DC. From there her work as been included in exhibitions at the Islip Art Museum (NY), the Bellevue Arts Museum (WA), the Brooklyn Arts Council (NY), Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (NY), the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (FL) and the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (ME). Lisa has worked with a variety of galleries and received reviews and mentions in local and national papers including: the New York Times, the Washington Post and Sculpture Magazine. In 2016, she was awarded the New Media Invitational from the Target Gallery at the Torpedo Factory. She was also a Joan Mitchell semi-finalist. Having lived in Australia, Jamaica, the United States and Europe, Lisa currently resides on a small island off the coast of Maine.
What is a Painting in Space?
II use the term, Painting in Space, to describe what occurs when the hand painted silk is removed from the stretcher bars and placed in three-dimensional space. These site-responsive room sized installations use the ceiling, walls and floor as their canvas. Elements of the room are incorporated into the work. Much of the preparatory work is done beforehand including: preliminary sketches, hand painting, forming the shapes, and some assemblage. Once in a particular space, painterly decisions are made in the installation of the components. I move about the space adding and subtracting elements, shaping, stitching, undoing and re-forming again, until the entire work comes together. The final work will vary slightly from initial drawings, because I am responding directly to the space, its elements and its history.
Using silk as my painted “canvas” enables me to experiment spatially while using it symbolically as a facade-like structure. It is deceptively strong, yet ethereal in nature. The silk holds shape and bares the burden of pigment. It allows shadow, light and dimensionality to play a role in the work. Other components such as wall painting, lighting elements and wood structures are integrated into the “painting”.
As Paintings in Space, one can enter into the painting, experiencing it from within. These works are intended to be immersive. It is the viewers that become the final component of the painting.
Currently, I am making video projections that create a virtual Painting in Space, completely unencumbered by physical space.
How do you choose the materials you work with?
I choose my materials based on what I am trying to communicate in the work. Using translucent materials (Mylar, silk) enables me to incorporate an ethereal quality into the work. Recently, I have been working with shaped wood panels and lighting elements.
Each material presents its own challenges and surprises, lending to the story of the piece. The work becomes a vehicle to explore the surface, or superficial, layer and facades in general. I like the work to reveal itself slowly, how it is made and the components within.
You seem to work in a variety of different mediums and approaches. Can you explain your process?
I have always operated from the standpoint that the idea should guide the work. My paintings, mixed media works and installations are spatial abstractions that merge contrasting shapes, materials and methods of working. Each work is a collaborative environment of opposing elements that explore the outer layer and what lies beyond and beneath it. I use these amalgamations of forms and stratum as a metaphor for the nuanced layers of one’s personality and how temperament reveals itself when interacting with others.
“It is as if the artist teased the pigment off a canvas, artfully stretching it in midair for a brief moment in time before it snaps back into place. Color as the sole remnant of memory would likely please Kellner, as in the end this is the very definition of a painting, making Kellner the latest, modern embodiment of a painter.”
Eric Hope, East City Arts; Washington, DC
“With an unparalleled level of self-awareness, Lisa Kellner’s artwork explores the particular struggle between running wild and restraint. In a serene Cambridge corner, Gallery 263 is currently home to the artist’s latest exhibition, Surface Consumption. Kellner’s painting, embroidery, and sculpture seek unity within the volatile relationship between control and chaos.”
Maryam Raad; Boston Hassle. Boston, MA
“Merging patterns and colors from nature with the human penchant for order and symmetry, Kellner’s ethereal paintings on silk and her site-specific installations capture the intangible, lyrical quality of space and expand the vocabulary of painting.”
Suzette McAvoy, Director & Chief Curator, Center for Maine Contemporary Art
“Conceptually challenging and also using the most unusual combination of materials, Lisa Kellner has four works in which she combines photographs printed on silk, paper or other materials; snippets of text and architectural elements including real metal door hinges. The resulting imagery prompts one to think about human skin as a "canvas" on which other images and objects can be placed. These works have a somewhat milky look that makes it difficult to get a clear reading on humanity."
Mike Giuliano, Howard County Times; MD
with Kate Singleton
Buy Some Damn Art
by By Maryam Raad
“WENT THERE: Surface Consumption Finding Equilibrium in Expression.”
by Kriston Capps
Washington, DC ‘Here and Now’, Transformer Gallery
by Eric Hope
East City Arts Reviews:
“Always Into Now at the Torpedo Factory”