Lucas Kelly


ever upward 1

Untitled  (#9), acrylic on paper, 41 x 42 inches, $3,600


Untitled (#6), acrylic on paper, 41 x 42 inches, $3,600

ever upward 2

Untitled (#23), acrylic on paper, 21 x 20 inches, $1,500


Untitled (#24), acrylic on paper, 46 x 42 inches, $3,600

ever upward 3

Untitled (#15), acrylic on paper, 42 x 42 inches, $3,600


Untitled (#16), acrylic on paper, 18 x 21 inches, $1,500


Untitled (#13), acrylic on paper, 41 x 42 inches, $3,6000


Untitled (#20), acrylic on paper, 18 x 20 inches, $1,500


“I produce work based on the inefficiency of memory’s ability to maintain narrative. Developing formal sensory triggers that precipitate nostalgic responses this body of work hopes to engage narrative participation from the viewer. These formally ambiguous objects, which act as surrogates for lost entities in my personal experience, become tactile markers for memories which have broken down over time. Like a jpeg that is averaged and deteriorates each time it is accessed, these scenes are averaged time over time and gaps are filled to create clarity. Like a game of telephone, continually accessing these memories breaks down our ability to accurately store their information. I am interested in this type of systematic failure, a beautiful disaster of sentimentality. Engaging that element of the human experience is an essential part of my practice. Keeping my objects formally ambiguous allows the viewer to engage
on their own terms.  

“I think about my work as nostalgically being similar to songs in the way music becomes a place holder for moments in our personal histories. Different points in my personal narrative generate specific images to which I can attribute a sonic reference. The music of Bob Mould was a soundtrack to a large portion of my life. I devoured every release by the bands Hüsker Dü and Sugar, as well as all of Mould’s solo albums, singles, and ep’s that I could find. I think his songwriting influenced my aesthetic a great deal. There are pop sensibilities to his songwriting that function much like the way I approach composition and color. Simple, minimal, direct, and at times romantic, yet he always manages to shift gears and not allow his work to become trite, or cliche, pop music. In a similar way, I am using a minimal or reductive aesthetic that employs an acknowledgement of humanity and celebrates it. When I was in graduate school, the painter Tom Nozkowski said my work was ‘a type of punk minimalism.’ But I think it deviates from being explicitly ‘punk.’ I hope the work moves through similar variations that underground music saw in the post punk era.

“When I started these works on paper I thought of them as ‘B-Sides,’ like songs that were on the b-side of singles that I bought years ago. Rarities that were the reason one would purchase the single. These songs never made it to albums, but ran parallel to the work on the album. In a way these paintings on paper run parallel to the objects. While I am concerned about people feeling like the idea of the b-side may denigrate the work as not being equivalent, I like the idea of these also running beside my practice.

“In 1995, Mould’s band Sugar released an album called ‘Besides’ which was all B-Side releases. They used the same idea of ‘Beside’ and ‘B-Side’ that I am using here.  Since I was listening to his music with a renewed interest at the time I started the works on paper, it is just a small nod to him. ‘Besides’ makes sense.” 

Lucas Kelly’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and throughout Europe.  His work has been included in multiple group shows most notably in the survey of abstract painting “The Painted World” at MoMA PS1 . A full professor in Visual Arts at Mercer Community College, Kelly is also the Director of the college’s gallery. Kelly holds a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.