The first complete survey of the late Mike Kelley’s colorful Kandors project, named after the fictional city featured in the DC Comics Superman series, opened this week at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles. Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011, in collaboration with the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, celebrates one of the final bodies of work by the Los Angeles artist and is open through January 21, 2018. From a gallery press release:
Visually opulent, technically ambitious sculptures, along with videos and large-scale installations, rework the imagery and mythology of the popular American comic book superhero Superman in a meditation on loss, power, and memory. As Kelley once explained, Kandor functions for Superman as ‘a perpetual reminder of his inability to escape the past, and his alienated relationship to his present world.’ Over the course of his four-decade career, the artist conflated the highest and lowest forms of popular culture into a critical examination of social relations, cultural identity, and systems of belief.
Made during the last decade of his life, the sprawling Kandors series draws upon the artist’s longstanding preoccupation with trauma and repression, but also shows him at the height of his powers in formal investigations of color, light, and scale. This exhibition features key Kandors works being shown for the first time in LA, including the installation ‘Kandor-Con 2000’(1999); the sprawling ‘Kandors Full Set’ (2005 – 2009), with an array of illuminated cities and hand-blown bottles; and the series’ monumental ‘Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude) (2011), an evocation of Superman’s post-apocalyptic sanctum sanctorum, lined in glittering gold objects. The survey also includes early preparatory drawings, works from the Lenticular series, and complex sculptural installations that integrate video narratives from Kelley’s important parallel project, the Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction series.
See a preview of Kelley’s Kandors work in our gallery.