This is Mr. Kennedy’s eighth solo exhibition at First Street Gallery. In this exhibition, Mr. Kennedy finds inspiration in common public settings and the people that inhabit them in and around Bloomington, Indiana, a Midwestern college town. Since Manet’s Luncheon on the Grass, representations of people and their pursuit of leisure activities have held up a mirror to contemporary notions of identity, class and the human relationship to nature. Seen through Mr. Kennedy’s eyes, a volleyball game in a city park, a couple canoeing and a fisherman beside a boat are all fodder for large scale figure compositions.
Kennedy has also continued to explore portraiture by focusing on neighbors and colleagues in romantic pairs or family groups. Painted from life, these portraits emphasize the psychology of the sitters by recording their interaction with their surroundings and, more subtly, with one another. These are time-intensive, reciprocal works that demand the artist’s and sitters’ continual collaboration. We may not know the subjects personally, but they are people we immediately recognize. Part of the pleasure afforded by the portraits is recognition of physical resemblances between family members, emotional connection between romantic partners and hints of character and psychology as revealed through posture and body language.
Tim Kennedy’s paintings fall solidly into the tradition of painterly American realism that prizes the particular and the empirical. The paintings allow the viewer to examine a sharply experienced, yet ordinary event. The unspoken subject at the center of the paintings is the connection between people and the connection of people to their surroundings, whether people are the primary subject or whether the subject consists of landscape views, objects or interiors. The paintings celebrate life as it is experienced through the senses. Mr. Kennedy’s use of oil paint favors visceral color and the undisguised presence of the artist’s hand. It is work on a human scale that manifests a direct encounter with perceptual experience, and conveys an atmosphere filled with light and air.