Stacks Image 22474
ISLE OF THE DEAD, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, 2000
Regarding Tiko Kerr
by Doris Shadbolt - OOC, GGA, Curator, Writer

Tiko Kerr draws the subjects for his art from the material world of natural or constructed phenomena but his art is not concerned with the physical nature of those phenomena. Rather it is concerned with the amalgam of sensory data, which emanates from them in his perception. In this way of seeing things, he is, in a general way, in the spirit of Van Gogh and Soutine. Colour and light are primary in Kerr’s vision but even they, perhaps, take second place to his strong intuitive sense of movement and spatial orientation.

It seems that for him everything is alive with movement. Buildings lean and warp and threaten to topple; streets heave and highway cloverleafs twist themselves into knots; surfaces may crawl or curl; colour is high in intensity and often richly pigmented. The impact is sometimes visceral. He is not interested in subjects, who might call for the expression of subjective emotion, but sometimes his intense sensory response to his material is filtered through a strong personal feeling evoked by his subject, as in a series of paintings done in Venice several years ago. He was grieving over the loss of a close relative at the time, and his mood is reflected in the prevalence of velvety blue-black skies, in images of striking spectral beauty, reminiscent of the German-Swiss artist Arnold Bocklin.

In contrast to much earlier work, in a most recent group of paintings done on a trip to Haida Gwaii, where he saw for the first time at Ninstints, the old poles made by Haida carvers many years ago. In these paintings the forms of poles retain their physical stability, perhaps out of admiration for the enduring expression of human dignity and thought which they bring from the past; at the same time, his natural vision which must find vitality and movement in all things finds its expression in surfaces which shimmer with colour and light, miming the continuing relevance of the messages the poles carry into he present.

Like all committed artists Kerr is constantly seeking to deepen and enlarge his vision and where he will take his art in the future no one can say. But he is surely committed to a future as a painter. He is his own man and he has successfully, even brilliantly, demonstrated the continuing viability of the medium, despites critical pressure that suggests it is time for painting to give way to more specifically cerebral modes of expression.

~ Doris Shadbolt
Curator, Critic, Author, Vancouver, BC

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