About the work

CLAY KETTER

ABOUT THE WORK


 

    CLAY KETTER
    

Narminal Feastro Wall, 2002
Mixed media   
190 x 278 cm

First and foremost the piece with the odd title Narminal Feastro Wall resembles an interior being redecorated although it is difficult to tell whether it is being rebuilt or torn down in favour of a more expert finish. Doubtless the wall is in some kind of limbo, going from one state to another.

Ketter is interested in the formal aspects, colour and texture, found in domestic interiors and which he combines with more narrative elements, such as doors and windows. When the subject is the home we cannot help but make up stories about the object. What kind of house is this and what has happened to it?

In addition to the narrative elements Ketter treats the wall as an empty shell, a formal surface, with nothing behind it. There is only a façade, quite unlike the house and the home which are characterised precisely by the interior.

AESTHETICS OF RENOVATION
ARKEN's work is part of Ketter's series Renovation Trace Paintings in which he manifestly employs the aesthetics of walls being renovated or condemned. Ketter's juxtapositions turn the authentic materials into art, entirely new associations springing up in the process.

He demonstrates the surprisingly close similarity between various interiors, house façades and formal abstract paintings as we know them from twentieth century art history. The concrete occurrences of the everyday – building renovation and condemnation – in the context of art become aesthetic abstractions. It is the space between the two poles that generates the meaning of Ketter's works. They are both abstract and figurative, narrative and expressionless.

With Narminal Feastro Wall Ketter asks the subtle question: what is the difference between a wall painting and a painted wall?

THE NARRATIVE WALL
There is also a more symbolic connection with the home or the traces of the home that used to be. Ketter uses the term 'trace' about this series of works, thus emphasising the relationship between the disrepair of today and the presence of yesterday's use. In other words the work plays on the relationship between the normality of the everyday and the unsettling nature of a change and loss of the familiar.

Moreover the work's title contributes to the extra dimensions pointing beyond the relations between abstraction and concrete, perceived reality. The title, Narminal Feastro Wall, makes no sense, thus reinforcing the object's status as art rather than being the more down-to-earth construction work with which it has so much in common.

Clay Ketter's art in general
Ketter constructs flat sculptures, installations and three-dimensional paintings – or a compound of all three categories. His striking painting-cum-sculpture-cum-installations principally recall interior design. They capture moments in condemnation or rebuilding usually of limited duration but here freeze-framed in art. The walls exist in a permanent limbo between the presence of demolition and the eternity of art.

IKEA AS ARTISTIC BUILDING BLOCKS
Ketter's previous jobs as a carpenter and a construction worker are regarded as fundamental to the look of his work. The walls are neat, meticulously executed IKEA-like constructions; some of the works actually contain IKEA elements. The works emphasise art as a result of a carefully carried out job. Ketter has wittily reintroduced craft to modern art which for many years was distinguished by mind over matter. His materials are blinds, paint, doors and MDF boards: a combination of prefabricated objects and do-it-yourself craft that many people have tried their hand at, with varying success.

AFTER THE AVANT-GARDE
Ketter's art is post-avant-garde, i.e. takes a conscious and reflected stance on the art that dominated art history this past century. It is impossible not to compare Ketter's works with the changes that have taken place in the twentieth century when art took a critical view of what was before. But at the same time Ketter wants to position himself in opposition to the idea of the avant-garde: an art regarded as a progressive process spearheaded by an intellectual and aesthetic vanguard, challenging the old ideas of art.

Ketter joins in two dominant trends in twentieth century art: formal modernist painting, which in an abstract idiom attempts to define painting's peculiar nature and potential, and Marcel Duchamp's ready-mades, that incorporate everyday objects into the world of art.

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