Laney Contemporary is excited to present Look! I’m Over There, an exhibition of new work by artist Marcus Kenney. This is Kenney’s first solo-exhibition in Savannah in over five years.
Through his alchemistic logic of combining seemingly random materials, such as neon, fishing nets, pitchforks, and rope, Look! I’m Over There is an installation of sculptures that expand Kenney’s visual language past the narrative collage and mystical taxidermy creatures for which he is recognized.
The use of material objects that once signified something specific, even functional in the past, have acquired new meanings in the present. Likening this new body of work to poems, the individual pieces give contemplation to the ideas of time, memories, and loss and also offer glimpses of hope. This body of work channels an imperative tone that not only asks, but directs the viewer to consider multiple perspectives, just as the title suggests.
Look! I’m Over There implies a fractal, multidimensional Self. We exist in the present and yet we are also deeply connected to other times, people in our past, and places that are now out of reach; a kind of fragmented consciousness. This extends to the range of works with a multiplicity of media, the combinatory approach to dimensionality, and the usage of a buffet of material. The works in this exhibition are simultaneously 2D and 3D. They are paintings as much as they are sculptures.
All of this circulates as part of Kenney’s embrace of shifting medium and style; in his own words, “to alert the viewer that I am also this and not just that.” Kenney’s newest work, in the form of sculpture, absorbs and intuits the ebbs and flows of the coastal region as objects and points of reference. Literal marks of shared history and circumstances deeply rooted in the landscape and its people form sculptural webs. A native of Louisiana, he has held tightly to his roots, but after twenty-five years in Savannah, the content of the Low Country finds its way into his work. Each singular sculpture in Look! is a narrative island connected tangentially by line and form to the others, as if alter-like portraits, each one with its own storied history. Each surface, with its scores and scratches, splashes, stains, and scars, whether made of board or fabric, signage or netting, seems to reference the painted surface without the ahistorical newness of paint. The artist’s gritty, story-emanating compositions have been referred to in the vein of the “Southern Gothic,” and described alongside terms such as reclamation, alchemical, or vintage-aesthetic.
All of this remains relevant while this latest body of work employs neon lighting, adjusting toward a slightly more “minimalist” approach. A buoy, for instance, may be present as much for its color, markings, and formal weight as it is included for what it is per se or even what it represents. It was once something and it is something different now; past and present in one.