Kelley Walker Opens at Paula Cooper
Last Saturday Paula Cooper unveiled Kelley Walker’s solo show revealing his new vibrant body of work that captivates viewers through its combination of popular culture, art, advertising and politics. A work that consists of 190 silkscreen and acrylic ink panels takes over the entire back room and brightens the space. The assemblage of panels, some color and others grey, encompasses a large rectangular room of stark white walls, allowing the viewer to be completely consumed by it.
It is quite a sensation standing in the dead center of the room surrounded by scattered panels on the wall. As you get closer silkscreened Volkswagen Beetle advertisements from the 1950s-70s are unmistakable, they seem as if they are about to lift of the flat surface. Each of the ads are contorted and punctured that nearly look 3-D on a flat panel. Walker manipulated a 3-D modeling process called Rhino and figured out how to force the program to accept 2-D images. It’s almost a mind trick considering the intense contrast between the folded or rolled VW advertisements and the ultra flat, 100 percent opaque colors behind them.
As beautiful as the piece is, it is hardly just aesthetic. Walker is known for his politically and culturally charged work. Here he chose to use the Volkswagen Beetle advertisements demonstrating the power of the media in creating and also transforming this iconic image.
“The directness and humor of the VW campaign is largely responsible for the now iconic status of the Beetle and for rebranding a product that, only a decade before, was widely associated with the Third Reich (the ‘People’s Car’)”
Kelley Walker takes it upon himself to re-contextualize this iconic campaign into something of his own, into something of our current culture and time.
- – Olivia Marciano