Upper Iowa University (UIU) welcomes guest artist Kenneth Hall to its Fayette Campus on Thursday, Feb. 16. Hall will host an Artist Talk at 3:30 p.m., followed by a reception until 5 p.m. for his “Confluence” exhibit at Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery.
“My recent work is inspired by the raw forms and intense color fields of Abstract Expressionism, but also has roots in the earthy palette and brooding tenebrism of the Baroque period,” said Hall, an associate professor at University of Northern Iowa (UNI). “Having grown up in the ‘80s, I acknowledge the influence of MTV as well, with its pulsing videos from bands like Duran-Duran and the Scorpions. I value drama, a little nostalgia, and perhaps a bit of the Sublime.”
Hall was born and raised a “Navy brat” and made the transition from a career as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard into the art world. Ken’s first legitimate art experience was at the University of Illinois, Champaign, where he pushed his way into a drawing course while working toward a master’s degree in Civil Engineering. After 10 years in the Coast Guard, and with his wife’s full support, Hall decided to take a leap of faith and go back to school full time for art. He credits his seven years of training at the Columbus College of Art and Miami University for forming his aesthetic and vision as an artist.
Now an instructor of painting and drawing at UNI, Hall borrows recognizable forms and figures from “old masters” such as Tiepolo, Rembrandt and Correggio. He explains that he uses these figures as surrogate forms – remnants of passion – in fractured spaces. His choice of art historical imagery (bodies) combined with aggressive abstraction results in works that have a sort of pulsing energy.
“The visual effect of layering and weaving together photo-derived passages with gnarly gestural forms can be surprising – even shocking,” said Hall. “I have learned that my best paintings often go through a stage where their very nature becomes unnerving to me, as if they are defining themselves, like unruly teenagers. As the work evolves, I respect the force and strangeness of this new identity. The painting is simply an object, but our response to it is wonderfully complex and deeply human.”
Hall has shown his work nationally and internationally, including art fairs in New York City, a group exhibition in Hamburg, Germany, and an international arts conference in Athens, Greece.
“Confluence” will remain open to the public during regular gallery hours through Friday, March 17. Bing-Davis Memorial Gallery is located in Edgar Fine Arts Hall at UIU’s Fayette Campus. The gallery is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.