This week marks the finale of the Mike Kelley retrospective at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA . Originally starting in Amsterdam, the show then traveled to Paris, stopped in NY, and had it’s home coming here in Los Angeles. The museum completely transformed into a celebration of Mike Kelley’s thirty-five year career, having been included in shows and collections at MOCA since it’s inaugural exhibition. Mike Kelley “is the largest exhibition of the artist's work to date, bringing together over 250 works, from 1974 through early 2012”. Kelley was born in Detroit and moved to Los Angles in 1976, where he lived and worked until his death in 2012. He “remained in Los Angeles after graduating, quickly becoming influential as an artist, teacher, collaborator, and experimental musician”. After his passing, the museum has carefully curated a show that “is organized to underscore the recursive nature of Kelley's work”. As recurring themes of death, trauma, religion, sexuality, repressed memories, morality, dark humor, and impropriety, emanate through the work.
Upon entering the museum you are met with a mix of overlapping sounds projected from “Day is Done “, a video installation, that attacks all the senses at an alarming rate. Not to say that the work is overwhelming but the work allows your thoughts to completely leave your mind and become entirely immersed in the viewing process. Sprawled across the museum are works in every type of medium imaginable, like the multi panel painting “Pay For Your Pleasure”, a hallway of famous writers and philosophers supporting criminality, sculptures like “Kandor”, a recreation of Superman’s home planet shrunk down into a glass jar, and many installations like “More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid and The Wages Of Sin”, which struck up controversy in its originally exhibition.
Kelly always had a rock and roll, do-it-yourself, attitude that drove him to experiment through all expressive forms of art. Within the mix of stuffed animals, massive statues with broken garbage, rainbows of color juxtaposed against black and white prints, jewelry collages, banners, drawings, and lifesize recreations, you are able to see the true fearlessness he possessed. In the end, the retrospective is a daring account of a reactionary artist who observed the social conditions and misconceptions the world created and slapped them back into our faces.
Mike Kelley will be on view until July 28th. Make sure to see it before it’s gone! Here are a few pictures from the museum.