Delmes & Zander I Berlin picks up on John K. - SITTING, the first solo show by the artist at Galerie Susanne Zander I Cologne, with a new look into this fascinating body of work. Formerly known to us only by an abbreviation of his last name, recent ongoing research into this oeuvre has disclosed new facts:
John K.'s real name is John Kayser, born in 1922 in North Dakota. His family moved to Pasadena, California, sometime around the early 1930s, where Kayser grew up. As a young man he took classes at the Stickney Memorial Art School, which had opened in 1912 and was among the first major art schools opened in the Los Angeles area. Later he served in the military from 1943 to 1945 as a private in the 18th Bomber Squadron, 34th Bomber Group, which flew air offenses in Europe during World War II. His military occupational specialty was Airplane Armorer 911, which corresponds to his job: John Kayser worked for Northrup Aircraft Incorporated for 40 years, starting in 1941 on the assembly line and moving on to working as a technical illustrator at the company in the 1960s. From 1948 to 1954 he studied at the Art Center of Los Angeles and, in 1952, at the Allied Art School in Glendale, California. A few snapshots from the late 1940s suggest that he may have been married to a woman named Lilly, but she does not appear in any photographs nor is she mentioned in any letters or documents beyond those dates. Other than the women who modeled regularly in this photographs, and with whom he seems to have had close but never sexual relations, John appears to have been single up to his death in 2007.
Throughout his military service and working years at Northrup, he actively made portrait paintings and pastels, entering and winning awards in many community art shows and fairs in the Los Angeles area. The earliest photographs date from the early 1960s and appear at first to be an extension of his figure drawing practice, but while his drawings and paintings never really evolved beyond the art club aesthetic of the time, from the start he was able to create a distinct visual language in his photographs and in the 8mm films he made alongside. While rooted in the foundations of his art school training, in the photographs we see John giving voice to sexual obsessions alongside a kind of visual declaration of how he saw female beauty. Beyond a few dozen black and white photographs of his earliest model, all the original prints are Kodacolor snapshots from 35mm film that was likely processed and printed by John's neighborhood camera shop.
In this second show we will be featuring a selection of original vintage photographs by John Kayser from a period dating from the mid-1970s when he was in his 50s. They let the viewer catch a glimpse into Kayser's private world, where subtle details lend insight into the life and practice of a man obsessed with the beauty of the female form and the loss of beauty, and whose oeuvre we have only just begun to unravel.