In the catalogue essay that accompanies the exhibition, Barry Nemett discusses Kevin Kearney’s work:
No one eats Cézanne’s apples. No one swims in Turner’s seas. And no one sits in Kevin Kearney’s seats. The people who live in Kearney’s well-appointed, well-ordered homes proudly proclaim their station. These canvases represent an American, twenty-first-century version of seventeenth-century Dutch painting. Vermeer, not Van Gogh. Embroidered slippers, not wooden clogs. Ingres’ fine gowns, not Chardin’s peasant aprons.
The ten-foot tour de force, Red Wall with Wind, the viewer passes through the house into a picture-perfect day. The spanking-new hinges on windows and doors are small but front and center. Kearney, a builder, appreciates the importance of hardware. He’s also a storyteller, so he appreciates hardware’s role in grounding his tales with telling details. The view looks through the Mondrian-like geometry of doors and windows to a body of water that’s never swirled to a J. M. W. Turner storm. Interiors/exteriors, Kearney’s still, timeless paintings move us back and forth.
In Kevin Kearney’s work, there are everyday chairs from which the viewer sees the world realistically. And there are magical thrones from which the viewer imagines haunting creatures on patterned carpets floating through cerulean skies above cerulean seas. His red walls and surreal ceruleans look tranquil enough, but beware, any minute, a tsunami could erupt.
Red Walls, Surreal Ceruleans, and a Tsunami, paintings by Kevin Kearney is on view at the Ice House Gallery (405 East D Street, Petaluma, CA 94952) through September 21, 2019.