Paint, Ink and Water: Ephemeral forms and timeless beauty by Artist Kim Keever
The canvas is stretching.
The mediums that art uses or is created within are constantly evolving.
Ink and paint no longer have to align with paper, canvas or a wall. They can take ephemeral forms in water, that a camera can then capture beautifully and make eternal.
Artist Kim Keever's work is doing just that.
Keever's work–'Art Under Water', is created inside a 200 Gallon tank of water. Some of his works are the result of several months spent building scenes outside of the tank itself, before their immersion into the water, while others are the product of a spontaneous and organic rainfall of paint and ink into a volume of water.
They all have, in common, a certain dream-like, ethereal, atmospheric quality that would no doubt, be impossible to generate outside of the water.
We are honored that Kim, a renowned artist with such immensely beautiful work, spoke to us recently and shared insights into his process.
MaterialDriven: How did 'Art Under Water' begin for you, Kim?
Kim: I was a painter for many years before I decided to create something different. I started by making models on a table-top - using plaster and small store-bought and found elements. Unfortunately, all these models lacked atmosphere.
By switching to a water filled aquarium and using large format camera, I was able to capture these continuously changing scenes as the paint moved through the water. I have been creating this work for nearly 16 years. There are also videos on YouTube.
MaterialDriven: Kim, how do you curate what material goes into the creation of these scenes or models intended for the tank? What was that process, say, for your 'Landscapes'?
Kim: For the Landscape series of my work, I would often make drawings of ideas months ahead of time. Then, I would begin collecting the small pieces– artificial plants and flowers, and sometimes even found objects off the street. These small pieces were then glued into place onto pigmented plaster mountain forms.
The curation comes from knowing if the small pieces will be a fit for the larger visual idea of the scene. On one occasion, I took two years to locate the plastic flowers for the landscape series, Wildflowers.
In addition to the elements within the tank itself, there is often a layering of materials in front of and behind the tank as well, so as create the right atmosphere when the images are captured.
MaterialDriven: How do your Abstract works differ from this, when it comes to process?
Kim: The Abstract works are the opposite of any of my other work – the Landscapes, Eroding Mountains and the other series: The process is very spontaneous here. Next to the tank, is a large table with paints and inks so I can drip them into the tank.
Once they are released the paints and inks go their own way; there is no way to guide their movement. These random movements and forms are then captured by my camera.
MaterialDriven: We are very fascinated with your series- Eroding Mountains, where you show the process of erosion on mountains. What inspired this?
Kim: When I was a painter, I studied geology having spent some months in Ecuador and the amazing Andes Mountains. I became fascinated by how tectonic plates rise and move, and how mountains erode over millions of years.
I built a large model using layers of hard plaster between layers of weaker plaster. Over a period of time, the water eroded the weaker plaster faster than the hard plaster. By leaving the model in the water and photographing it over a period of months, I was able to mimic the erosion taking place over millions of years.
MaterialDriven: Thank you, Kim, it has been so interesting for us to learn how your art is created and understand the materiality that shapes it!
Kim: You are very welcome, and I am delighted to be included on the website.