MICHAEL KELLEY's first one-person exhibition in New York opens at Metro Pictures on September 18 and continues through October 6. Los Angeles-based Kelley, also known for his performance work, will present objects, paintings, drawings and text from two current projects: "Monkey Island" and "Confusion." Kelley combines multiple visual and literary elements in an installation-like presentation that takes easy license with standard conventions of painting, drawing and sculpture. With expressionistic energy Kelley uses these components to suggest informally cohesive scenarios comprising fantasy, mystery, mythology, geography, biology and archeology. The work is at once psychological and comedic as well as mystical and poetic. Kelley describes "Monkey Island" as "an epic poem... a sailor's tale. It's a physiognomic landscape travelogue that seems to dwell mostly in the sexual region." "Confusion" Kelley characterizes as "a play in seven sets, each set more magnificent and elaborate that the last."
In New York, Kelley has presented a performance piece at the Kitchen and has been included in group shows at Annina Nosei Gallery, White Columns and the Mudd Club. He has had a one-person show at Mizuno Gallery in Los Angeles. Kelley has done many performances and has been included in group exhibitions in Southern California and elsewhere on the university art gallery and alternative space circuit. Kelley's work has been reviewed in publications such as Artforum, Art in America, Art News, High Performance, Reallife Magazine, Artweek, Images and Issues and the Los Angeles Times.
"Kelley isn't content simply with ironic sculpture. He also paints pictures that look like chiaroscuro Thomas Coles, identifies readymades (his The Last Tool in Use, a dustpan), bears and does drawings that reconcile black-and-white opposites, both chromatic and conceptual... Kelley is reinventing opposites, both chromatic and conceptual... Kelley is reinventing almost every genre of art for himself in order to use them as a backdrop for his performance activity."
- Carrie Rickey, Art in America, May 1981