vibrancy of Pop Art and Neo Expressionism's emotional use of vivid
color harmonies, the paintings & drawings of Keith Tallett are a
punchy flow full of lyrical quality.
At first glance
Keith’s glossy fetishized surfboard-like surfaces could be
categorized as a manifestation of late Pop or Post Pop eye candy,
like the highly polished works of such contemporaries as Jeff Koons, Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami. But after time spent
and closer inspection the viewer realizes that the artist is present
in both concept and gesture. Brush strokes, squeegee lines and
minor cracks and bubbles in the resin reveal a ‘trace’ that is
definitely ‘hands on’ and very far from a place of mass production.
influenced by artists like John McCracken, Chris Ofili, Fred
Tomaselli & Raymond Saunders; Tallett’s artwork draws from a deep
rooted connection to his native Hawaiian heritage and that of
surfing culture. It was during graduate school at the San Francisco
Art Institute, punctuated by bad critiques and visits home, that
Keith began to look at the physical practices/activities & materials
that resonated with him. As an accomplished surfer and 2nd
generation surfboard shaper, a craft learned from his dad; he
realized that his work needed a radical change and decided to clean
out his studio and begin re-contextualizing the process and
materials used in the surfboard industry. Keith began making his
pieces through a patient process of woodworking, resin, paint, fabric application, and finishing. In end, a highly crafted
creation with a hint of a ‘do it yourself’ cottage and garage
In viewing his
work, it is easy to see the use of patterning in colors, materials,
and surface treatments. For example, Quiver (hotcoat), series and
Hyperfreak, fluorescent series, large 4'x6' door shaped slabs share
similarities in all three of these areas. It is in the hue and
presentation that the artist creates radically different effects.
Playing with fixed and dependent variables helps Tallett to open the
viewer up to the plurality of perception. Emphasizing the details of
the surface, the interrelation of numerous colored parts, and the
overall feeling of the work, is therefore key.
In his painting series ‘Fifty Greatest Surfers of All Time,’, Keith presents a large number of works on paper hung in a grid ten high by five across. Together the works remind you of the power and impact of abstract values; swells of color united by repetition, color codes and symmetry. Yet the title of the work as in most of Keith’s paintings and drawings alludes that the content is more than ‘beauty as meaning’. That the issues surrounding Keith’s work are found in the blurred lines that define authenticity as a cultural production and commodity; where the merging of space age surfboard material with that of the natural becomes a metaphor for native verse nonnative. As Keith Tallett has put it, “The process itself becomes a way of creating dialogue between an ingrained cultural knowledge, and my investigations as a contemporary artist.”
Studio notesKeith Tallett was born and raised in Hawaii, and after extended time away he now lives and maintains his studio on the Big Island. He has a BA from the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he was inspired and mentored by the late Wayne Miyamoto. Keith also received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and there he cites as strong influences, Mildred Howard and Sam Tchakalian. He has exhibited at such venues as the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco , Track 16 Gallery in Los Angeles, and Franklin Parrasch Gallery in New York. Keith's upcoming shows include The Arts at Mark's Garage in Honolulu, October 2010 and the Wailoa Center in Hilo, 2011. His work is currently on display at Ironwood Gallery at Ironwood Custom Framing & Design. Keith teaches drawing and painting at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and is the co-founder of Mahi’ai Creative, a Big Island based studio providing media and design to non-profits and public agencies. More of Keith’s work can be seen at www.keithtallett.com.