“The studio is a laboratory, not a factory.”
For the American painter Erika Keck her studio is the where place she can fully let go and embrace the making of objects rather than documents.
As she told Atwood Magazine “I enjoy the process of experimenting and letting the painting take me to places I didn’t expect. I think it’s important to have a sense of play when it comes to making a painting.”
It’s a journey that has encompassed a sculptural aspect with in her work.
As she explained to Whitehot Magazine’s Joe Heaps Nelson “It is and it isn’t about the three-dimensional thing. I do see the painting as an object, but it’s still about this thing that hangs on the wall, and it starts with the form of a painting… It really kind of grew into this because I wanted a painting that initially was just on the wall, and it looked almost like the paint escaped off the canvas.”
Which in turn underpins the abstract quality of the work that Keck builds.
“I don’t necessarily want to make something that’s going to create a very specific experience because otherwise I’d be making propaganda. I like jumping into the mystery, something that maybe puzzles me or confuses me, and that’s what’s usually going to inspire me to make something. I hope the viewer can have that same sense of wonder when they look at an image or object that I’ve made,” she says.
A point Keck elaborates upon stating “I think that’s part of the game of what painting has always been. It’s about using fiction to get to a truth, or using truth to make a new fiction. There are veiled personal references in there. I’m not looking to deliberately make someone feel good from one of my pieces… I’m after a deeper sense of pleasure. Not a sense of “I feel comfortable here” or “I feel familiar here”, but an emotional response to something that makes you feel uncomfortable because you’re stepping into new territory. You’re feeling something new and different for the first time.”
It is her New York studio that the New Mexico born Keck embraces all aspects of her chosen medium.
As she says “I’m a studio painter. I like coming out of the tradition of oil on canvas. I like to keep it focused, and simple, and right there, and then see how much I can complicate it… There’s still nothing like the smell of turpentine in the morning. I might have to open the can, even if I’m using acrylic.”
Keck, current exhibition How To Catch Monkeys is on show at New York’s Envoy Enterprises gallery until the 10th of April.