Constance Kheel
Essay

Constance Kheel's paintings are sensuous, serious, expansive, deeply felt. They are also slow: they were made slowly and painstakingly, by the application of acrylic paint in layers, by the continual adjustment and readjustment of forms, colors, and textures to one another, by acts of contemplation leading to countless decisions and revisions, and by a variety of techniques including painting with a brush, pouring thinned paint in translucent veils, and rotating and tilting the stretchers and papers in order to influence the flow of pigment. Properly experiencing her paintings, both large and small, similarly takes place in time and calls for an analogous (though of course lesser) commitment to imaginative energy.

The process can't be rushed or forced, and the viewer must attempt something that he or she is rarely called upon to do in contemporary culture: to open himself or herself to the work, to patiently allow the forms and colors to reveal themselves in all their ostensible simplicity (the forms) and layered density (the colors), to enter the play of abstract elements within the conventional but in this case passionately reconsidered arena of the square or rectangle, in short to truly grant the possibility that a radically abstract art is capable of yielding deep pleasure and satisfaction. No painting could be farther from the fashionable modes of present day. By the same token, all that is required to see these gravely beautiful works is the willingness to try.

Michael Fried

Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities
at Johns Hopkins University

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