Ken Fandell: Black and Blue

January 22 – March 19, 2022

Traywick Contemporary proudly announces the first exhibition of our 25th anniversary year: Black and Blue, featuring recent photo-based works on paper by Los Angeles artist Ken Fandell. This will be Fandell’s sixth solo show with the gallery.

Often starting with straightforward objects as his subject matter, Fandell’s work is known for an approach that mines the mundane and the everyday to reveal the extraordinary. His practice is a distinct blend of formal concerns of line, shape, color and composition, with skepticism, irony and humor.


“Photography is a way of obliterating time and space.” Ken Fandell

In his recent series, Fandell continues to deconstruct basic concepts of art making, and in the process blurs the lines between the conceptual and the physical. His new images are made of shapes that are precariously balanced and teetering, on the brink of settling or collapse. Many of the compositions appear as suspended animations that defy gravity or architectural reality.

The process itself owes more to non-representational approaches like action painting. Starting with basic cut out paper shapes—circles, squares and triangles—Fandell haphazardly applies many layers of oil stick and paint to the surfaces. These elements become the basis for sculptures that cannot stand for long on their own, given the paper materials. Before the temporary structures collapse, Fandell photographs views from as many angles as possible. He then presents numbers of these images as parts of larger and more complex collaged compositions that appear as sculptural volumes on flat surfaces.

Presenting the images contemporaneously on one sheet of paper allows Fandell to play with gravitational and spatial relationships, providing an alternative version of the sculptures’ corporeal reality. Further confusing our understanding are the incidental marks that appear throughout – scuffs and smudges of the oil stick which track the artist’s hand, as he repositions the painted shapes during the photographing process. Although the resulting pictures more closely resemble sculpture and painting, they remain insistently photographic in a hyper-real depiction of fine details and tactile surfaces.

Ken Fandell has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, with exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Honolulu Museum of Art, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, the University of Delaware, the Asheville Museum of Art, and the Houston Center for Photography. His work is included in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. He has received prestigious awards from Artadia, the Fund for Art and Dialogue; and The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. He lived for many years in Chicago, where he was Chair of the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Fandell now lives and works in Southern California, where he is the Michael G. and C. Jane Wilson Chair in Arts and Humanities at Harvey Mudd College.

4 Views of 7 Blue Circles, 2021. Unique archival pigment print; multiple exposure color photograph; 54.5 x 49″

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