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Clay Ketter

New Work

26 January – 24 February 1996


26 January – 24 February 1996

The American artist Clay Ketter originally supplemented his income working in the construction industry, an experience that was to have a major influence on his artwork. Ketter appropriates and customises modular, prefabricated kitchen units—the kind we are used to assembling ourselves—and then places these hybrid structures in a gallery context. These pieces are informed by Scandinavian interior design, as exemplified by the Swedish company IKEA (Ketter now lives in Sweden). Melamine shelves, surfaces and cupboards provided the basis for these sculptural works, to which Ketter added a series of transparent panels that implied display. Meticulous in its craft, the finished product has a pared-down, utilitarian aesthetic reminiscent of both Minimalist sculpture and the utopian modernism of Bauhaus design, while also referencing the language of painting.

As with many artists working with real objects, arguably, one of Ketter’s artistic antecedents is Marcel Duchamp. There is a parallel between their work in the dual tactics of changing context and removing function to draw attention to the everyday. However, to read Kettter’s construction as readymades would be to overlook the crucial processes of transformation they undergo. His Sketch for Grey Wall Painting (1994), is fabricated from plasterboard and inlaid with metal rectilinear divisions; and plaster is used to fill a series of drilled holes that contribute to the overall geometric balance of the wall-mounted relief. With these subtle interventions, Ketter rediscovers painting and sculpture by investing them with a pragmatic materiality that employs the vocabulary of structural repair.

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