comments are closed on this review, click here for worldwidereview home

'On the Margins' Kevin Killen, Waterfront Hall, Belfast,  31st July - 22nd August 2003

From: Brendan Jamison
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 19 August 2003


On the Margins is an exhibition which truly transforms the surrounding space, it offers the Waterfront a central focal point, drawing visitors in and hypnotising them with a beautiful glow of radiating colour.

Innocent and playful, the sculptures exude positive energy. These are some of the initial responses to Kevin Killen’s exhibition of fantasy creatures at the Waterfront Hall. Thoughts of dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, a deadly shark known as Jaws and a huge hungry crocodile all spring to mind. However, like the scrap materials the artist employs, these images from cinema history are transformed by the child-like boldness of colour, a technique which creates a very powerful light-hearted effect. On the opening night, the audience reacted to the forms and colours with an immediate emotional response; their faces lit up with a warm glow, seconded only by the work itself.

At first the title seems incompatible with the work. However, upon reflection, On the Margins could be read as the in-between space where the sculptures stand, with reality on one side, fantasy on the other. Like doors opening into a strange new world they entice the viewer in and encourage the mind to wander free.

The sculptor’s style recalls certain artists and movements from art history. The early 20th century Barcelona artist Joan Miro also worked with a similar child-like simplicity of form and colour, creating pieces which could send a tingling sensation up through the viewer’s body. In the 1970s, the Italian ‘Art Povera’ movement employed cheap or ‘poor’ materials in the construction of their art. However, unlike Killen, these sculptures were executed in a much less craft-orientated fashion. Tony Cragg of the 1980’s ‘New British Sculpture’ is also brought to mind through his employment of discarded waste material, transforming it into vibrantly coloured wall and floor installations. This young artist successfully pursues similar themes into the 21st century with both one foot in the energy and charge of the past and the other striding forwards into an optimistic and brightly coloured future.

It must be noted that Killen is not a conceptual artist, his practice is very much grounded in the hands-on skill of the traditional sculptor. It is this quality which renders his sculptures accessible to a wide audience. However, it is children who will cherish his works the most. Second to this, it will be those adults who still possess the great gift of looking at the world with the freedom, energy and enthusiasm of a child. Thirdly, those too far removed from childhood fantasies will need to be immersed in the space for a little longer to feel the magic breathing from the pores of Kevin’s creatures, open your mind and let them run wild in your imagination.

Brendan Jamison is an artist and writer

comments are closed on this review, click here for worldwidereview home