Littlejohn Contemporary is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Belfast artist John Kindness. Mr. Kindness's frescoes, sculpture, and mosaics from major projects will be on view, including work from the "Belfast Series", "Treasures of New York", and focusing on "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", a work-in-progress for Belfast's Children's Hospital. Also on view will be work from his Philadelphia project, created during his recent residency at Fleisher Art Memorial, "The 9th Street Giornate". To produce the two American series, Kindness spent an extended period of time exploring the urban landscapes in much the same way an archaeologist mines for artifacts. In all his series, Kindness takes contemporary, everyday objects representative of a particular place and time, and tells a story with them. Whether depicted in murals painted in the traditional manner on wet plaster or etched onto found objects, such as parts of taxi cabs or garbage cans, this unique body of work captures both the humor and the grimness of modern life.
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Kindness's "Belfast Series" are frescoes based on his childhood during the 1950's in Northern Ireland. Paintings of significant objects and activities from his youth, such as teapots, cast-iron beds, barbers giving haircuts, and the glow of his father's cigarette, form a narrative that is both whimsical and nostalgic, as well as a reflection of the political climate of the time.
In "Treasures of New York", Kindness wandered the foreign streets of Manhattan and its boroughs observing life and collecting odd objects that had been discarded. He then etched and painted onto these fragments scenes of contemporary life: a man cleaning up after his dog with a pooper-scooper, a homeless man assisted by paramedics, the realities of our disparate health coverage, and the well dressed and the poor.
During his residency in South Philadelphia, Kindness explored the Italian marketplace (giornata) searching for artifacts to use in his frescoes. Intrigued by displays of coiled sausage, a chicken head, guns, and doughnuts, he would return to his studio and paint these images onto wet plaster. Each day's work produced a different fresco with a different object, creating a journal of South Philadelphia life.
John Kindness is a frequent commentator of political themes as well as class distinctions. Furthermore, he has a rare talent for finding beauty and artistic value in the mundane details of urban life that are frequently overlooked. His fresco panels and unique sculpture document our lives, making him a "contemporary archaeologist" and artist. Inspired by his childhood visits to the Ulster Museum in Belfast, an eclectic combination of a natural history, archeology, and art museum, Mr. Kindness combines a social-science mentality that documents society with a creative talent that draws on traditional methods and content.
The "Belfast Frescoes" are now in the permanent collection of the Ulster Museum in Belfast; works from the "Treasures of New York" are owned by the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the British Council in London, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. This Spring, he had a major survey of his work at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
For further information please contact Jacquie Littlejohn.