"Play With the Deck You're Dealt," installation view, lithographs,
47 1/2 x 34 & 40 x 30", 1994.

 


From the "Playing Card Series,"
lithograph, 47 1/2 x 34", 1994.

 


From the "Playing Card Series,"
lithograph, 47 1/2 x 34", 1994.

 


From the "Playing Card Series,"
lithograph, 47 1/2 x 34", 1994.

TED KERZIE

by Elenore Welles

(Adobe Krow Archives AKA Gallery, Bakersfield) Ted Kerzie's latest paintings and prints continue a modernist lineage that traces it's roots to the Pointillist, Cubist and Futurist techniques of Robert Delaunay and Gino Severini. He evokes an amalgamate of ideas absorbed from Abstract Expressionism, geometric design and color-field. Mainly, though, his systemic technique is closer to contemporaries such as Larry Poons and Ed Moses. The result of this dizzying array of influences is optical illusionist patterns that both dazzle and confuse.

Preferring to work on a large scale, Kerzie starts by covering a canvas with a single color. He then applies diagonally shaped geometric grids with layers of masking tape covered with stenciled holes. Utilizing an all-over process of applying paint, he covers the shapes and holes with layers of colors. Some carry a preponderance of vibrant blues, reds, yellows, greens and oranges; others a more subdued range of pastels. Until the tape is removed, Kerzie is unaware of the final results. Consequently, the appearance of structured diagonal patterns and dots are, in reality, the result of chance. Strange shapes and symbols float on the surface, as though they had just bubbled up from deep crevices. They bring us into realms that are both interior and exterior. The cadence of colors and forms vibrate with such intensity, however, they tend to make the retina dance.

Reflecting the prevailing influence of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, Kerzie has a need to create order out of chaos. But his process consists of accepting the role of chance as a 20th century aesthetic. Nowhere is the role of randomness and chance in more evidence than in nature and it is no accident that Kerzie's works evoke a topographical appearance. He has been a licensed pilot for many years. The dense layering and synthesis of grid, form and color offer a kaleidoscopic view that echoes the undulating rhythms of the earth in flux.

Currently on view are 10 small studies for larger paintings. These studies have a tendency to compress the action, increasing the tensions between the precisely delineated edges and the color complexities. As a result, the claustrophobic rhythms create energy fields that are even more dizzying.

Also exhibited are four monoprints. Here Kerzie breaks loose from the obsessive patterns of systemic variations. He gives vent to more expressive proclivities, allowing paint to spill over bands of horizontal and diagonal areas. Large swaths of deep reds, purples and yellows bombard the forms with expressive energy, as well as blurring the destinction between foreground and background.

Deviating from his usual non-figurative artworks, Kerzie's new series of lithographs consists of imagery taken from playing cards and is titled Play with the deck you're dealt. Ironically he is not playing with a full deck, for he only features the king, queen and ace of hearts. The image of the queen is taken from Boticelli.

Carrying through with his illusions of perspective depth, Kerzie uses geo- metric underpinnings. He superimposes layers of cards upon layers of geometric forms that include his signature dots. Cards and forms are covered with layers of colors, once again in either vivid primaries or in more pastel tones. The colors bleed through the card layers, creating the illusion of viewing different decks. Also, they are layered randomly and set at different angles, appearing as though tossed into a chance arrangement. In this series, Kerzie brushes close to a Lichtenstein-like Pop aesthetic, but the unity and flow between color and design seem more in tune with the elegant processes of Jasper Johns.