For Chad Kessler's latest solo exhibition, "Dancing Away These Daze," opening this weekend at Hayley Gallery in New Albany, the local artist fine-tuned his process and strengthened his personal style.
For Chad Kessler’s latest solo exhibition, “Dancing Away These Daze,” opening this weekend at Hayley Gallery in New Albany, the local artist fine-tuned his process and strengthened his personal style.
Kessler, a self-taught artist, has always approached creative endeavors with a shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude. After having an outbreak of inspiration more than eight years ago — when he first started painting, but also delved into creative writing — Kessler worked in many different mediums until he found a style to fully embrace.
“It’s become more dialed in with the process and everything. I pretty much stick to the image transfers now,” Kessler said during an interview in his basement studio, which he’ll be leaving soon for a new place in Italian Village. “I also love the way the transfers work; I’ll fuck up and rub off too much of part of it. I can either go in and hand-paint it back, or just leave it open.”
For the transfers, Kessler adds a clear acrylic atop painted wood panels — the sole surface he works on — then adds a (reversed) paper image and leaves it overnight. The next day he begins the process of rubbing the paper off to reveal only the image. The process can be time-consuming and result in occasional disappointment — as a failed Frankenstein piece could soon meet a fiery expiration — but it fits ideally with Kessler’s objectives.
“I love the screen-print look [that image transfers create], but I don’t want to have to commit to making a screen and then making only one image. And I don’t want to do multiples of everything. I do an occasion multiple if someone requests one, but I don’t want to be like Warhol. I love the aesthetic of Warhol, but I don’t want to be like cranking out … 30 pieces of this,” Kessler said.
His process results in “kind of street art, anti-establishment stuff,” as Kessler puts it, but there’s also a vibrant color palette present in each and some amusing pop elements. The collection in “Dance Away These Daze” conveys Kessler’s modern, minimalist aesthetic that, despite its experimental nature, has an immediate appeal.
Photo by Maddie McGarvey