Texts: Siri Hustvedt, Jon Kessler & Douglas Blaw.
Year: 1994, Page: 106
Jon Kessler (Yonkers, N.Y. 1957) is part of a young generation of North American artists to emerge in New York throughout the second half of the ‘80s and, having revitalised the artistic scene in Manhattan, broke onto the international plastic art stage with rare energy.
With a degree in Art obtained in 1980 (State University of New York at Parchase and The Whitney Museum Independent Study Program), his first solo exhibition was in 1983. But it was his presence at the International Survey of Recent Painting & Sculpture, an exhibition organised at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1984, and the Whitney Museum Biennial in 1985 that confirmed his status as a young sculptor in the art world.
Subsequently, his work acquired immense international renown, following exhibitions in Germany, Austria, France and Japan and the exhibiting of his work in the main North American museums (MOMA, Whitney, MOCA, etc.) and important private collections around the world.
For Stephan Schmidt-Wulfen, Jon Kessler’s work shows the joy and enthusiasm of his own creation: recorders, plastic flowers, toy garages, rubber clowns, fish, Buddhas, a fridge, a music box are used to be observed and to stimulate the imagination. Theatrical effects, lights, movement and music are used to emphasise the value of the show. Kessler is an artist who is interested in stimulating the imagination and creating feelings and to do this, just like a magician, he hypnotises the viewer using seduction and other show methods.
His apparently direct, open and cheerful sculptures are able to captivate the viewer and invite him/her to take part in a game, which, by using emotional tricks, presents a tragic-romantic view of an artificial world, made of found objects.
Another of the features that characterises Kessler’s work is his special relationship with "time". All of his sculptures are “animated”, in other words, they move; but they are driven by inappropriate energy that is regulated by a mechanical means of time that dominates and restrains the sculptures at the same time as ridding them of their present in order to simultaneously place them in a simple “past" and “future”.
It is a great honour for the Port of Santander to be able to present the first solo exhibition of Jon Kessler's work in Spain at the "Nave de Sotoliva" and within the ARS programme, which although a visiting exhibition, is also the first contribution of a foreign artist to this project.
The Port of Santander would like to thank all the people and organisations that have taken part in preparing this exhibition, in particular the Luhring Augustine Gallery and Claudia Carson of New York; Juliette Kessler, Asti Hustvedt and Dan Friedman and the companies RIU S.A. and Sonican de Santander; the authors of the catalogue texts and especially Jon Kessler for the enthusiasm, dedication and generosity that he has brought to this project.
Port of Santander