This exhibition surveys forty years of Richard Kalina’s work. We have wanted to organize a show like this ever since we first started working with Richard nearly twenty years ago. When we included the striking tondo, Mnemonic Device, in a summer group show in 1992, Richard gave us a slide show that revealed the often surprising, always fascinating developments that had brought his work to that point. Our seven exhibitions of his work since then have only added to our desire to present this show.
Kalina pursues what he describes as “an investigation into a grammar of abstraction that takes into account formal strategies, wide-ranging references, and the set of ideas that have swirled around modernist painting and the art that followed it.” His approach allows for improvisation and contradiction within the mutable systems that define the many distinct cycles of his work. Elements are shared across his work – color, the grid, references to representation, decoration and art history, along with aspects of humor and play. They are combined or omitted as required by the project at hand. “The paintings’ parts are loosely tied town and ready to rearrange themselves whenever they are called upon to do so.”
The evolution of his materials and methods from straight painting to an elaborate, layered collage technique has generated its own significant impact. “I like doing things in an organized and methodical way,” Kalina says, “It allows me to move ahead confidently with no real idea of where I am going.” The exhibition’s eighteen selected works make evident the accomplishments of his open-ended inquiry in which every answer raises a new question.
Richard Kalina was born in 1946 and studied at the University of Pennsylvania. He began exhibiting in 1969 and has shown his work in museums and galleries, both nationally and internationally. This survey is his twenty-first solo show and he has been affiliated with Lennon, Weinberg since 1992. The earliest work in this exhibition, Luquillo, was included in the recent exhibition New York Cool: Painting and Sculpture from the NYU Art Collection, curated by Pepe Karmel for the Grey Art Gallery.
His works are also included in museum collections such as the Arkansas Art Center, Guild Hall Museum, Fogg Art Museum, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, National Museum of American Art, Norton Gallery, Parrish Museum, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Rutgers University Art Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum and Yale University Art Gallery.
In addition to his work in painting and drawing, Richard Kalina is a well-known art critic, serving as a Contributing Editor at Art in America and regularly publishing articles in that magazine and others. He is the author of Imagining the Present: Context, Content, and the Role of the Critic, published by Routledge Press. Richard Kalina is Professor of Art at Fordham University in New York, where he teaches studio art and art history.