Mike Kelley: Kandors at Jablonka Galerie

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On display at the Jablonka Galerie in Berlin, Germany, is Mike Kelley’s collection of new work; Kandors.

The exhibition of new works by Mike Kelley features sculptures, lenticular light boxes and videos related to the fictional city of Kandor, the capitol of Superman’s home planet Krypton. According to the Superman mythos, Kandor is the only remaining vestige of the exploded Krypton, and the city is preserved, in a reduced state, in a bottle in Superman’s possession. Interestingly, the image of Kandor was never codified and the numerous representations of it in the comic book throughout the years vary widely in appearance.

In Kandors, Kelley reconstructs ten unique versions of Kandor, with its enclosing bottle. Thus, Kandor, as an eternally maintained, but constantly reconfigured, relic of Superman’s childhood, is an apt symbol of Kelley’s interests in the vagaries of memory, and relates to his own works that refer to Repressed Memory Syndrome.
Kelley focuses on the formal diversity of the various versions of Kandor. Ten images of the bottled city were selected from the hundreds of examples found in Superman comic books, and these have been recreated as sculptures scaled up to human dimensions. The original found images of Kandor were graphically altered to accentuate color and form then rendered as lenticular lightboxes, which gives the images the illusion of dimension and movement.

The Kandors project is an exercise in the translation of graphic two-dimensional images into three-dimensional sculptures. The flat areas of background color in the comic book panels have been rendered as illuminated Plexiglas walls. The various versions of Kandor are represented by under-lit resin sculptures in a variety of colors. The various bases and plinths that the Kandors sit upon have been constructed as actual furniture. But, in many cases, the bottles, bases, and cities have been separated and spaced apart, complicating their formal relationships. Kelley has described this process as an attempt to make an artwork as flat, colorful, and visually simple as a painting by Matisse which operates in three dimensions, yet still maintains an overall sense of graphic flatness. All of the works feature light or motion, and the exhibition is self-illuminated.

Mike Kelley was featured in Season One of Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century.

Jablonka Galerie
Kochstrasse 60
10969 Berlin

Kandors on view until December 22.


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