Ray Kleinhelter paints abstract compositions of intricate geometric pattern. Although he cites American Richard Diebenkorn and London’s Frank Auerbach as influences, Kleinhelter’s approach touches upon a variety of 20th century movements, and a viewer might feel as if they are seeing a mash-up of Color Field, Abstract Expressionism and a touch of Pop Art. But such attempts to pigeonhole his work probably wouldn’t be accepted by the artist himself:
“I am interested in the process, (or craft) of painting, drawing, and printmaking. Every serious painter has a different interpretation of what this means. There are no rules to follow, but what we want are pictures that hold up. No explanation required. Painting in its purest form is much more interesting than any perceived meaning applied to the image. Contemporary interpretations of art, while intellectually compelling, have little to add to the language of painting, where form and content are inseparable.”
As with most artists, Kleinhelter began with representational work, and he still sees recognizable form and the natural world at the root of his intensely colored geometric abstracts:
“I continue to draw and paint from nature, lately from my boat, exploring the appearance of land and light. These pictures inform others and act as starting points for improvisation. I rarely stop with one version of an image. In the last year or two, wood cut printing has become a catalyst toward flatter, more direct images. Interestingly, the paintings have changed through the experience of printmaking, moving toward what I believe is a cleaner sense of structure.”
You can visit Ray Kleinhelter on the Ohio River during OPEN STUDIO WEEKEND, November 5 & 6, 2016, where he will be painting on his boat. The event benefits scholarship programs for Louisville Visual Art and University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute and tickets may be purchased here.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: Yale School of Art Summer Painting Scholar 1982; BFA, Kansas City Art Institute 1982; MFA, Indiana University, Bloomington 1986
Gallery Representation: Galerie Hertz (Louisville)
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.