THE HILL OF DREAMS
Cover: W oman in Sky (detail), 1999
Photo by Toby Newman
4 MARCH - 17 APRIL 2015
THE HILL OF DREAMS
Marlborough Fine Art 6 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BY t: +44 (0) 20 7629 5161 e: email@example.com www.marlboroughfineart.com
KEN KIFF: THE HILL OF DREAMS ANDREW LAMBIRTH
It is now 14 years since Ken Kiff died at the comparatively early age of 65. As more time passes and we look afresh at his work, it becomes increasingly clear that he was one of the most original painters of the joys and travails of the human condition.
He chose to conduct his investigations through a potent and highly personal combination of figurative and abstract elements, deploying a range of media from drawing to painting and printmaking. Kiff was in pursuit of an elusive whole – perhaps as elusive as the perfectibility of the species itself. But the fact that he pursued such wholeness, despite the odds against achieving it, was heroic. And the quality of the images he made during his quest was remarkable. Kiff would grow frustrated at the lack of understanding with which his work was greeted. He wanted to make paintings which were both abstract and figurative, with passages of making which some saw as illustrational, together with entirely formal passages having no obvious subject. He loved the work of Miró and Pollock and felt much in common with their approach, and yet commentators persisted in seeing only the figurative side of his endeavour and would categorize him as a quirky fantasist. But for Kiff, fantasy was not an escape from reality but a means of thinking about it – as it is in the great myths and legends of folklore. Kiff, in his ambitious inventiveness, wanted to make paintings which were relevant to the (divided) whole of modern man, and thus had to contain both tradition and experiment, practical as well as abstract thinking. It is in this light that his work should be seen and thought about, as if the artist were a conjuror juggling with several balls at once: old and new, figurative and abstract, formal and narrative, colour and line, flatness and depth, mass and weightlessness, transparent and opaque. The challenge was to keep all the balls in the air at once. Thus Kiff can be regarded as a powerful landscape painter, as evinced by Tree by the River, an exquisite pastel and charcoal drawing from 1994. The image offers a lyrical and romantic scene of great trees and crags, islands and inlets, but at the same time it is an abstract arrangement of shapes in dark and light, a pattern of energies whose dispersal is traced in burnt wood and coloured mud across a sheet of paper. The trees are like human presences in their familial groupings, and make a poignant contrast to the solitary person: a tiny fragile figure perched on the cropped grass of the downland above sanguine striated cliffs. He looks like a faded and miniature version
of the Cerne Abbas Giant, the great chalk figure of the Dorset hills, though in Kiff’s vision rather less triumphalist in mood. He was obsessed with the process of making, with forming and fluidity, and like the Abstract Expressionists believed that the subject of a painting emerged from the interaction of artist and medium. Consider for a moment the number of images here that include a hill, from Man Taking Shape in Water (an image of making if ever there was one), to Woman Standing in Sea with Crimson Flowers and Pale Yellow Bird, surrounded by Kiff’s characteristic elevated mounds and tumps, and Fish, Tree and Dark Cloud. The hills are filled with dreams and stories, episodes from our collective past, gatherings of hopes and fears, and probable revelations. Kiff’s hills are imaginary, metaphoric, narrational, formal. They are eloquent shapes stroked out of pastel or paint and formulated to re-present colour and density as much as an elevation from the surrounding countryside. They are a source and a hiding place, an end and a beginning. Like all the imagery in his paintings, Kiff’s hills have variable identities, plastic as well as topographic. A hill can be a magic mountain which reaches to divine heights of inspiration, or the portal to a cave which marks the opening to subterranean depths of layered reference and meaning. There is a story in the Finnish folk epic, The Kalevala, which recounts how Vainamoinen, a sort of Northern Orpheus, has to enter the underworld in order to find the lost magic words which will enable him to build a boat and sail to safety. A great singer, Vainamoinen is a shamanistic hero who travels hugely, the kind of man who could readily make a zither from the jawbone of a monstrous pike. But he is a troubled soul, and in the end he sails away, who knows where. Here is a key to Kiff’s work. The questing, the journeys, the relationship with the natural environment, creativity, the varied weather of the soul: all are themes explored in Kiff’s paintings. His is a mythic world where the little man in the row-boat might be fishing for mackerel, but he’s more likely to be going on an impossibly big adventure – the voyage of life. But at the same time, this narrative component is only one element in the artistic equation. Just as important (if not
more so) are the formal aspects of Kiff’s art: the plangent colour, the evocative line, the shrewd juxtaposition of surface and depth. He could have been a great and lyrical abstract artist, as some of his last works (which entirely dispense with recognizable imagery) demonstrate. Kiff was deeply concerned with the various physical activities of painting and drawing and printmaking, and talked often of the ‘stuff’ of his calling. He loved the coloured mud of paint, the deep stain or evanescent suggestion of charcoal, the gouging of the block when making a woodcut. Latterly he was very involved with an encaustic process of painting with hot wax developed with Garner Tullis in America. Not only did the practicalities intrigue him but he knew that the actual activity of making was crucial to his inspiration and the subsequent full realization of his vision. Klee writes somewhere about the artist placing more value on the powers that do the forming than on the final forms themselves. Kiff would have agreed. So, natural (“realistic”) form is not nearly as important as the imaginative process of its transformation. Again and again he transcended realism in a heightened awareness of the potential of paint and imagery to touch the deep truths of existence. In Horizontal: Flower and Tree with Yellow Sun (1992-3) the paint is so thin it is almost stained on rather than brushed. There is a delicacy of handling, yet richness as well as subtlety in the colour. Compare this to the modelled built-up surface, like plaster but probably just acrylic relief, to be found in the much earlier Man, Boat and Lizard (c1972). Kiff revelled in the physical stuff of his art, whether the smooth brown surface of hardboard or the crusty textures of thick paint. He liked working on board because of the punishment it would take – particularly in terms of sanding back, when he wanted to modify or obliterate something previously painted. Occasionally Kiff would bash a hole through the support, as he did four times in Artist and Blue Head (c1965), an early hardboard painting that engages in a daring way with the concept of space behind the picture plane. In one sense, Kiff was emphasizing the picture’s object-hood, its physical nature, as against our usual belief in the painting as illusion. He was also introducing a new kind of mark into his pictorial vocabulary: a hole, an area of darkness and space – perhaps a pause for thought. Although abstraction has been a current mode for a century now, there are those who still find it bewildering, and who cling to the slightest trace of figuration they can find in an image. With Kiff this is not difficult as his art combines abstract and figurative impulses in equal measure, though sometimes one is more dominant than
the other. Extraordinarily, what is often seen as the narrative aspect of Kiff’s work can still cause problems; in particular, the regular appearance of a diminutive figure, or anti-hero. People sometimes have difficulty in seeing beyond this little man, as if a central character so apparently inglorious and defenceless is somehow embarrassing. But Kiff used this unassuming figure deliberately because he knew well the mythic force of modesty and innocence triumphing. Whether the figure is autobiographical or not is largely immaterial: he is Everyman facing the daily trials of existence and fighting the dragons of modern society, whatever they might be (and no doubt different for each of us). Kiff preferred to keep his paintings around him, sometimes to continue working on them, sometimes just for the inspiration they brought him. It was an attitude that made parting with them (and thus making a living from sales) fraught with anxiety. But this was not why he did not seem to finish so many of his works. For him, ‘unfinish’ was a deliberate strategy, a way of ensuring the image was open and breathing, a means of keeping it alive. It was one reason why he started The Sequence, a series of interlinked works in acrylic on paper begun at Easter 1971, which explored what he termed ‘dynamic processes in the psyche’. With such an approach he could work on a number of images at once, over the years, and allow them to influence each other and the forward momentum of their shared existence. But perhaps the greatest single example of ‘unfinish’ is the majestic National Gallery Triptych, begun during his residency there as Associate Artist (November 1991 – October 1993). In 2000, I asked Kiff if he saw the unfinished pictures as failures. ‘No’, he replied sturdily. ‘If the unfinished painting has something crystallized about it, then it probably isn’t a “failure” and could, in fact, already be considered finished.’ Underneath the engaging gentleness of manner, there was a toughness in Kiff, a determination to do his work justice. Patrick Symons, fellow painter and teacher at Chelsea School of Art, told a poignant story about him. Lecturing to students at the end of a week, Kiff noticed heads beginning to nod in an afternoon doze. At that moment a slide jammed in the projector. Uncharacteristically, Kiff swore loudly and walloped the machine. Instantly everyone was wide awake and continued to pay attention to the end of the class. Symons, who had witnessed the scene, went up to Kiff afterwards. ‘Fortuitous, the projector jamming, wasn’t it?’ Ken smiled. ‘Actually, I did it on purpose. But it worked, didn’t it?’ Kiff’s best paintings, drawings and prints achieve the same effect: startling us into a new and refocused awareness.
LIST OF WORKS
an Painting, on Yellow, 1965 M Oil on board 91.5 x 112 cm. / 36 x 441/8 in.
rtist and Blue Head, c. 1965 A Acrylic on board 122 x 106.5 cm. / 403/8 x 42 in.
Violinist, c. 1975 Oil on board 101 x 81 cm. / 393/4 x 32 in.
an, Boat and Lizard, c. 1972 M Mixed media on board 63 x 65 cm. / 243/8 x 251/2 in.
5 Man and Woman, 1975 Oil on board 134.6 x 122 cm. / 53 x 48 in. 6
Green Hat, 1970 Pastel on paper 79 x 57.5 cm. / 311/8 x 225/8 in. Dark Figure, 1970 Pastel on paper 76.5 x 56 cm. / 301/8 x 22 in.
8 Yellow Head, Night, 1989 Oil on board 65 x 54 cm. / 251/2 x 211/4 in. 9 National Gallery Triptych, 1993 Acrylic on board Each panel: 122 x 85 cm. / 48 x 331/2 in. 10 M an taking shape in water, 1989 Pastel on paper 144.2 x 58.4 cm. / 563/4 x 23 in.
11 Orange Tree in large black Shadow, 1990 Pastel and charcoal on paper 99.7 x 69.9 cm. / 391/4 x 271/2 in. 12 White Tree, large Face, 1990 Acrylic on canvas 121.9 x 68.6 cm. / 48 x 27 in. 13 Woman Standing in Sea with Crimson Flowers and Pale Yellow Bird, 1991 Oil on board 152.4 x 68.6 cm. / 60 x 27 in. 14 Fish, Tree and dark Cloud, 1995 Pastel on paper 102.2 x 65.6 cm. / 401/4 x 257/8 in. 15 Horizontal: Flower and Tree with Yellow Sun, 1992-93 Acrylic on board 28 x 144.5 cm. / 11 x 57 in. 16 After Patenier (I), 1992 Pastel and charcoal on paper 107 x 100 cm. / 421/8 x 401/2 in. 17 After Patenier (III), 1992-93 Pastel and charcoal on paper 102 x 153 cm. / 40 x 60 in. 18 Tree by the River, 1994 Pastel and charcoal on paper 65.4 x 102.2 cm. / 253/4 x 401/4 in. 19 Man and Cave, 1995 Pastel and charcoal on paper 76.2 x 56.5 cm. / 30 x 221/4 in.
20 Woman Watching a Murder, 1996 Acrylic on board 76.2 x 63.5 cm. / 30 x 25 in. 21 Coloured Lines: Torrent and Boat, 1999 Oil pastel and acrylic on paper 102 x 75 cm. / 401/8 x 291/2 in. 22 Rainbow (1), 1999 Oil, pastel and acrylic on paper 145 x 84 cm. / 571/8 x 331/8 in. 23 Excited Man 76 x 54.5 cm. / 30 x 211/2 in. 24 Woman in Sky, 1999 Acrylic on board 80.0 x 78.5 cm. / 311/2 x 307/8 in.
25 Man and Maiden Acrylic on board 53 x 38 cm. / 203/4 x 15 in. 26 Rider in the Forest Acrylic on board 53 x 38 cm. / 203/4 x 15 in.
All works are acrylic on paper
27 Sequence No. 29 Liquorice pipe man 39.4 x 54 cm. / 151/2 x 21 in. 28 Sequence No. 35 Walking ( the dead father) 56 x 44 cm. / 22 x 171/4 in.
29 Sequence No. 37 Talking with a psychoanalyst: the hand 55 x 37 cm. / 211/2 x 141/2 in. 30 Sequence No. 57 Excrement (1) 68 x 55 cm. / 261/2 x 211/2 in. 31 Sequence No. 59 Goddess, attendant and cloak 68 x 54.5 cm. / 263/4 x 211/2 in. 32 Sequence No. 67 Unlikely angel 56 x 38 cm. / 22 x 15 in. 33 Sequence No. 132 Words 71 x 57.2 cm. / 27 x 221/2 in. 34 Sequence No.134 Ubu, Salamander and Symbol, 1979 69.5 x 66 cm. / 273/8 x 26 in. 35 Sequence No. 160 People at a table 67.5 x 100 cm. / 261/2 x 391/2 in. 36 Sequence No. 165 Protruding tongue 68 x 87 cm. / 263/4 x 34 in. ENCAUSTICS, MONOTYPES AND PRINTS
37 Untitled (Couple, tree and woman), 1990 Monotype 103 x 128 cm. / 401/2 x 501/2 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 38 Untitled (Mountain, cloud and tree), 1990 Monotype 106 x 212 cm. / 413/4 x 831/2 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York
39 Untitled (A1), 1996 Encaustic painting 38.4 x 45.9 cm. / 151/8 x 18 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 40 Untitled (A4), 1996 Encaustic painting 37.6 x 45.8 cm. / 143/4 x 18 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 41 Untitled (W9), 1996 Encaustic painting 36.8 x 44.8 cm. / 141/2 x 175/8 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 42 Sun with Tree and Shadow (A20), 1996 Encaustic painting 43.3 x 31.3 cm. / 17 x 121/4 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 43 Face, Tree and Bird, 1990 Monotype on board 122 x 101.5 cm. / 48 x 40 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 44 Sun, Tree and River, 1990 Monotype on board 122 x 101.5 cm. / 48 x 40 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 45 Untitled (Snail, Islands, Tree), 1990 Monotype 106.5 x 215.5 cm. / 42 x 843/4 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York 46 Untitled (Couple on path) Monotype 103 x 128 cm. / 401/2 x 501/2 in. Garner Tullis Workshop, New York
47 Girl and Rocks, 1991 Lithograph Paper: 74 x 60 cm. / 291/8 x 235/8 in. Edition of 40 Erik Holgersson, Sweden 48 Castle Rising from the Sea, 1993 Etching and aquatint Paper: 72.5 x 54.5 cm. / 281/2 x 211/2 in. Edition of 35 Studio Prints, London 49 Quiet House near Dark Rocks, 1998 Etching Paper: 32 x 48.5 cm. / 125/8 x 191/8 in. Edition of 35 Studio Prints, London 50 Boy in Street, 1991 Lithograph Paper: 52 x 60 cm. / 201/2 x 235/8 in. Edition of 45 Erik Holgersson, Sweden 51 Dawn Chorus, 1988-1990 Woodcut on Japanese ‘Bunkoshi’ paper Paper 43.5 x 89 cm. / 171/8 x 25 in. Edition of 35 Jo Briggs, London 52 Woman, Wave and Flowers, 1991 Woodcut and monoprint on Japanese ‘Bunkoshi’ paper Paper: 89 x 65.5 cm. / 25 x 253/4 in. Edition of 50 Jo Briggs, London
an Painting, on Yellow, 1965 M Oil on board 91.5 x 112 cm. / 36 x 441/8 in
rtist and Blue Head, c. 1965 A Acrylic on board 122 x 106.5 cm. / 403/8 x 42 in.
The painting depicts an artist discovered in the private and mysterious act of making, taken aback by being jolted from creative reverie, while a menacing blue doll-like female peers over his shoulder. Inspiring him, haunting him or checking up on him? Here we have the two extremes, creation and destruction, for the holes knocked in the board read not only as three-dimensional marks but would also have destroyed small sections of the original painting. Kiff reconciles these two supreme opposites in an image of challenging complexity.
Violinist, c. 1975 Oil on board 101 x 81 cm. / 393/4 x 32 in.
an, Boat and Lizard, c. 1972 M Mixed media on board 63 x 65 cm. / 243/8 x 251/2 in.
5 Man and Woman, 1975 Oil on board 134.6 x 122 cm. / 53 x 48 in.
Green Hat, 1970 Pastel on paper 79 x 57.5 cm. / 311/8 x 225/8 in.
Dark Figure, 1970 Pastel on paper 76.5 x 56 cm. / 301/8 x 22 in.
8 Yellow Head, Night, 1989 Oil on board 65 x 54 cm. / 251/2 x 211/4 in.
Bleakly reminiscent of Picasso’s very last self-portrait, an effect much heightened by the scratching out of the eye. Yet the energy is still there, for Kiff as it was for Picasso, manifested in the forcefulness of Kiff’s abrading as he’s taken the paint back and enlivened the surface. This was an habitual strategy of his – scouring the paint, re-painting, sanding back again – and is one of several reasons why Kiff’s paintings need to be seen in the flesh. Another is the subtle declaration of his colour, which has a radiance all too often lost in reproduction.
9 National Gallery Triptych, 1993 Acrylic on board Each panel: 122 x 85 cm. / 48 x 331/2 in.
10 M an taking shape in water, 1989 Pastel on paper 144.2 x 58.4 cm. / 563/4 x 23 in.
11 Orange Tree in large black Shadow, 1990 Pastel and charcoal on paper 99.7 x 69.9 cm. / 391/4 x 271/2 in.
12 White Tree, large Face, 1990 Acrylic on canvas 121.9 x 68.6 cm. / 48 x 27 in.
13 Woman Standing in Sea with Crimson Flowers and Pale Yellow Bird, 1991 Oil on board 152.4 x 68.6 cm. / 60 x 27 in.
14 Fish, Tree and dark Cloud, 1995 Pastel on paper 102.2 x 65.6 cm. / 401/4 x 257/8 in.
15 Horizontal: Flower and Tree with Yellow Sun, 1992-93 Acrylic on board 28 x 144.5 cm. / 11 x 57 in.
16 After Patenier (I), 1992 Pastel and charcoal on paper 107 x 100 cm. / 421/8 x 401/2 in.
17 After Patenier (III), 1992-93 Pastel and charcoal on paper 102 x 153 cm. / 40 x 60 in.
18 Tree by the River, 1994 Pastel and charcoal on paper 65.4 x 102.2 cm. / 253/4 x 401/4 in.
19 Man and Cave, 1995 Pastel and charcoal on paper 76.2 x 56.5 cm. / 30 x 221/4 in.
20 Woman Watching a Murder, 1996 Acrylic on board 76.2 x 63.5 cm. / 30 x 25 in.
21 Coloured Lines: Torrent and Boat, 1999 Oil pastel and acrylic on paper 102 x 75 cm. / 401/8 x 291/2 in.
22 Rainbow (1), 1999 Oil, pastel and acrylic on paper 145 x 84 cm. / 571/8 x 331/8 in.
23 Excited Man 76 x 54.5 cm. / 30 x 211/2 in.
This impudent and optimistic painting depicts a naughty-looking naked man equipped with a vast and incandescent penis. Itâ€™s so big it divides his body and rises like a Roman candle under the tutelary hand of his equally naked female companion. She waves her fingers over his erection, the man waves his right hand (at her? at us?) and the approving sun waves at all. Itâ€™s a marvellous, light-hearted celebration of sexuality with an unexpected kind of innocence.
24 Woman in Sky, 1999 Acrylic on board 80.0 x 78.5 cm. / 311/2 x 307/8 in.
This painting takes the bare hardboard as a base from which to build, utilizing its colour as if it were a warm undercoat of paint, a golden ground to work upon. The variety of mark here is delicious: from the free brushy green of the breast-like hill to the scratched and striated areas where Kiff has painted, then sanded back and over-painted. At the bottom right corner are thickish blobs of pigment scored over, and the orange tree on the left shoots up into pencil-drawn finger-like branches. The pathway or river (perhaps here a stream), so typical a feature of Kiff’s imagery, is the great symbol of travel and in particular the journey of selfdiscovery. Hills and rivers – stability and flux – dominate his paintings.
25 Man and Maiden Acrylic on board 53 x 38 cm. / 203/4 x 15 in.
26 Rider in the Forest Acrylic on board 53 x 38 cm. / 203/4 x 15 in.
27 Sequence No. 29 Liquorice pipe man 39.4 x 54 cm. / 151/2 x 21 in.
This presents a great head like a pineapple, with fog-lamp eyes, affrighted locks and a big black corncob pipe. The pipe, apparently made of liquorice, is also the head of another (subsidiary) figure who dances in impotent attendance (perhaps magically imprisoned in the pipe) at bottom left. To the right is a greeny-grey phlegmatic personage reaching into the mouth of the main figure, with a gesture highly reminiscent of the ancient Roman sculpture, La Bocca della VeritĂ (The Mouth of Truth), in the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Thought to represent the ancient god of the river Tiber, the head is a famous liedetector: if you told an untruth with your hand in the godâ€™s mouth, it would be bitten off. (A celebrated scene in the 1953 film Roman Holiday memorably dramatizes this.) This painting, for all its minatory sub-texts, exhibits an extreme liveliness of paint, expressive colour and a sense of immediacy which are formally compelling.
28 Sequence No. 35 Walking (the dead father) 56 x 44 cm. / 22 x 171/4 in.
Here is a much more uncertain mood, questioning, full of hidden thoughts and possible alternatives. Within the image there are elements of hearth and home (dwelling and chimney), the decidedly more primitive (not to say chthonic) idea of a crouching green figure in a cave, and the two small figures in dialogue on the parallelogram atop the main figureâ€™s shoulders â€“ which might be said to stand for the divided self. Also, thereâ€™s a dreaming head at top left and a walking man moving down the left side of the sheet. This is a complex image which seems to hint at the variousness of individual personality: innate, inherited and atavistic.
29 Sequence No. 37 Talking with a psychoanalyst: the hand 55 x 37 cm. / 211/2 x 141/2 in.
30 Sequence No. 57 Excrement (1) 68 x 55 cm. / 261/2 x 211/2 in.
31 Sequence No. 59 Goddess, attendant and cloak 68 x 54.5 cm. /Â 263/4 x 211/2 in.
32 Sequence No. 67 Unlikely angel 56 x 38 cm. / 22 x 15 in.
33 Sequence No. 132 Words 71 x 57.2 cm. /Â 27 x 221/2 in.
34 Sequence No.134 Ubu, Salamander and Symbol, 1979 69.5 x 66 cm. / 273/8 x 26 in.
35 Sequence No. 160 People at a table 67.5 x 100 cm. / 261/2 x 391/2 in.
36 Sequence No. 165 Protruding tongue 68 x 87 cm. / 263/4 x 34 in.
ENCAUSTICS, MONOTYPES AND PRINTS
37 Untitled (Couple, tree and woman), 1990 Monotype 103 x 128 cm. / 401/2 x 501/2 in.
38 Untitled (Mountain, cloud and tree), 1990 Monotype 106 x 212 cm. / 413/4 x 831/2 in.
39 Untitled (A1), 1996 Encaustic painting 38.4 x 45.9 cm. / 151/8 x 18 in.
40 Untitled (A4), 1996 Encaustic painting 37.6 x 45.8 cm. / 143/4 x 18 in.
41 Untitled (W9), 1996 Encaustic painting 36.8 x 44.8 cm. / 141/2 x 175/8 in.
42 Sun with Tree and Shadow (A20), 1996 Encaustic painting 43.3 x 31.3 cm. / 17 x 121/4 in.
43 Face, Tree and Bird, 1990 Monotype on board 122 x 101.5 cm. / 48 x 40 in.
44 Sun, Tree and River, 1990 Monotype on board 122 x 101.5 cm. / 48 x 40 in.
45 Untitled (Snail, Islands, Tree), 1990 Monotype 106.5 x 215.5 cm. / 42 x 843/4 in.
46 Untitled (Couple on path) Monotype 103 x 128 cm. / 401/2 x 501/2 in.
47 Girl and Rocks, 1991 Lithograph Paper: 74 x 60 cm. / 291/8 x 235/8 in.
48 Castle Rising from the Sea, 1993 Etching and aquatint Paper: 72.5 x 54.5 cm. / 281/2 x 211/2 in.
49 Quiet House near Dark Rocks, 1998 Etching Paper: 32 x 48.5 cm. / 125/8 x 191/8 in.
50 Boy in Street, 1991 Lithograph Paper: 52 x 60 cm. / 201/2 x 235/8 in.
51 Dawn Chorus, 1988-1990 Woodcut on Japanese ‘Bunkoshi’ paper Paper 43.5 x 89 cm. / 171/8 x 25 in.
52 Woman, Wave and Flowers, 1991 Woodcut and monoprint on Japanese ‘Bunkoshi’ paper Paper: 89 x 65.5 cm. / 25 x 253/4 in.
Ken Kiff Prints and Drawings, Ruskin Gallery, Sheffield
1955‑61 Hornsey School of Art
Ken Kiff, Marlborough Fine Art & Graphics, London
Taught part‑time in comprehensive and ESN schools and subsequently at art colleges including Chelsea School of Art and Royal College of Art
Ken Kiff, Beatrice Royal
Illustrated Folk Tales of the British Isles, edited by Michael Foss, Macmillan, 1977
The Artists’ Camp at Kasauli, North India
Ken Kiff - Prints, Graphic Studio Gallery, Dublin, 10 March - 10 April
ollaboration with Erik Holgersson, Sweden, on production C of lithographs
Born Essex, England
1988-96 W orked with Garner Tullis on monotypes, at Garner Tullis Workshop, New York, on 5 separate occasions
ead Gallery, Warwickshire, New Ashgate Gallery (Woodcuts), M Harris Gallery.
Ken Kiff, City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, 21 September – 26 October World Artists at the Millennium, Elizabeth Foundations for the Arts, London, October.
1988-90 Worked on woodcuts with Jo Briggs, London
1999-00 Ken Kiff Recent Works, Marlborough Fine Art & Graphics, London, December
1990-00 Worked with Mark Balakjian, on etchings, at Studio Prints, London until 1998, and with Dorothea Wright at Studio Prints, London from 1998 until his death
Ken Kiff Retrospective of Paintings, Works on Paper and Prints, Marlborough Fine Art & Graphics, London, December 2001-January 2002
Became a Royal Academician
Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London
Ken Kiff Print Retrospective, White Gallery, Brighton, 2 December-27 January 2002
Died 15 February
2008 Ken Kiff Paintings and Works on Paper, Marlborough Fine Art, London
Gardner Centre Gallery, University of Sussex
Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
T albot Rice Art Centre, Edinburgh; MacRoberts Art Centre, Stirling;
Dundee Museum and Art Gallery, Dundee; Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
ritic’s Choice, selected by Norbert Lynton, Arthur Tooth C and Sons, London
agic and Strong Medicine, selected by Norbert Lynton, M Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London
Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London
1986 Serpentine Gallery, London (touring)
en Kiff Encaustic Paintings 1996-1999, Marlborough Fine K Art, London
Contemporary British Art , Rochdale Art Gallery, Rochdale 1974 John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 9, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
1975 Painters of Reality, Mystery and Illusion, Rochdale Art Gallery, Rochdale
Fischer Fine Art, London
1975‑76 Body and Soul, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Ken Kiff: Monotypes, Pamela Auchinloss Gallery, New York
Ken Kiff Recent Work, Marlborough Fine Art, London
1979 Narrative Painting, selected by Timothy Hyman, Arnolfini, Bristol (touring)
Prints by Ken Kiff, Marlborough Graphics Ltd, London Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and Glasgow Prints Workshop 1992
Ken Kiff, London Print Workshop
en Kiff - Prints and Monotypes, University Gallery, K University of Northumbria, Newcastle
Kiff - Prints and Monotypes, Woodlands Gallery, Blackheath, London 1993-94 Ken Kiff at the National Gallery, National Gallery, London
The First Exhibition, Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London 1980
Works on Paper, Nicola Jacobs Gallery, London
John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 12, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 1981 New Works on paper I, curated by John Elderfield, Museum of Modern Art, New York (touring USA). The Subjective Eye, selected by Moira Kelly and Edward Lucie‑Smith, Midland Group Gallery, Nottingham (touring) British Painting, Neue Galerie ‑Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen,
West Germany (touring Germany and Switzerland)
Group Exhibition, Edward Thorp Gallery, New York
1982 Issues: New Allegory 1, curated by Elisabeth Sussman, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Mass.; New York,
The Cutting Edge, Manchester City Art Gallery
4th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, Australia John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 13, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool London Group, Camden Arts Centre, London (touring) 1983
Alive to it All, Serpentine Gallery, London (touring)
Marseilles Art Present, Musée Cantini, Marseilles The Painterly Figure, Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, New York, USA Eros‑Mythos‑Ironie, Trigon International Biennale, Neue Galerie am Landesmuseum, Joanneum, Graz, Austria New Art, Tate Gallery, London 1984
A Private View, Ecole Régionale des Trois Arts, Nantes, France
The British Art Show, Ikon Gallery and City Gallery Museum, Birmingham (touring) Tenth Anniversary Exhibition: Content ‑ A Contemporary Focus 1974‑1984, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, USA The Proper Study: Contemporary Figurative Art from Britain, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, India Metaphor and/or Symbol, The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, Japan British Art, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, Australia (touring) Poetry and the Visual Arts, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, USA In their Circumstances, Usher Gallery, Lincoln, curated by Timothy Hyman 1985
olfgang Amadeus Mozart ‑ Neue Bilder, Thaddaeus Ropac W Gallery, Salzburg Group Exhibition, Betsy Rosenfield Gallery, Chicago, USA
T he Tree of Life, South Bank Centre Travelling Exhibition, Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester
The School of London: Works on Paper, Odette Gilbert Gallery, London Eros in Albion: Six English Painters, selected by Keith Patrick, Casa di Masaccio, San Giovanni Valdarno, Arezzo, Italy Picturing People: British Figurative Art Since 1945, British Council Travelling Exhibition, National Art Gallery, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Hong Kong Museum of Art; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe 1990
lasgow’s Great British Art Exhibition, McLellan Galleries, G Glasgow
Nine Contemporary Painters: A Personal Choice, selected by Andrew Lambirth, City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery Biting Back: Images of Symbolic Animals by Ken Kiff and Alexis Hunter, Manchester City Art Galleries 1991
Art in Worship, Tewkesbury Abbey and Worcester Cathedral
1992 Three Generations Pasmore, Kiff, Briggs, Vera Grodzinski Gallery 1993 Sammlung Sandven - Zur Kunst der zweiten Hälfte des 20 Jahrhunderts, Liechtensteinische Staatliche Kunstsammlung, Vaduz 1994 Accrochage, Marlborough Fine Art, London Here and Now, Serpentine Gallery, London Pastels Today, Mall Galleries, London Paper under Pressure, Ackland Museum, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA 1995 Art in Worship, Worcester Cathedral An American Passion - the Susan Kasen Summer and Robert D. Summer Collection, Royal College of Art, London 1995-6 John Moores Exhibition 19, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Human Intere, The Cornerhouse Gallery, Manchester
1996 Two Seconds Nine Months, Manhattan Loft Corporation, Bankside Lofts, London
Tva Engelska Målare, Galleri Rotor, Göteborgs Universitet, Sweden (with Simon Willis)
Down to Earth, 4 Art Galeria, Barcelona, Spain; Lamont Gallery, London
Nocturnal Images, Paine Art Center and Arboretum, Wisconsin, USA
1997 British Figurative Art, Part One: Painting - The Human Figure, 8 August - 21 September, Flowers East, London
A Century of European Prints, Marlborough Graphics, London
urrent Affairs: British Painting and Sculpture in the 1980’s, C Museum of Modern Art, Oxford and British Council tour to the Mücsarnok, Budapest, Hungary; Náordni Galerie, Prague, Czechoslovakia; The Zacheta, Warsaw, Poland
The Self‑Portrait, Artsite Gallery, Bath and tour 1988
Narrative Painting, Castlefield Gallery, Manchester
Personal Choice by Jeffrey Camp, Nigel Greenwood Gallery,
Landscape and Recollection: The Ballinglen Experience, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin. 1998 Ballinglen - Seven Artists’ Residencies, 6 March - 12 April, The Economist Plaza, London. Organised by Contemporary Art Society Projects in conjunction with The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ireland
World Artist at the Millennium : The International Year of Older Persons, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, 11 September October 18 2001 Tell me a Picture: An exhibition selected by Quentin Blake, The National Gallery, London Ken Kiff and Celia Paul Graphics, The Charleston Gallery, Sussex Great Impressions; Contemporary and Modern Master Prints, Royal Museum and Art Gallery, Canterbury London School Prints, Eigse Carlow Arts Festival, Ireland Tribute to Ken Kiff, Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, London London International Small Print Biennale, Morley Gallery Ken Kiff (1935-2001) Retrospective, Marlborough Fine Art, London 2006 Summer Exhibition, Marlborough Fine Art, 19 July – 9 September 2015
Accrochage, Marlborough Fine Art, January
1973 Eric Rowan, Magic and Strong Medicine , Walker Art Gallery, The Times, 7 August Michael Sheperd, Strong Dose , Sunday Telegraph, 14th October 1979 Norbert Lynton, Ken Kiff, Gardner Centre Gallery, Sussex University, catalogue Introduction Martha Kapos, Ken Kiff, Gardner Centre Gallery, Sussex University, catalogue introduction William Feaver, Loiterings with Deep Intents, The Observer, September Timothy Hyman, Ken Kiff, Artscribe no.17 1980 William Feaver, Vogue, January Hetty Einzig, Ken Kiff, Nicola Jacobs Gallery, catalogue introduction, February Peter Fuller, Ken Kiff, Art Monthly no.34; reprinted in The Naked Artist, Writers and Readers, 1983 Simon Vaughan‑Winter, On Show, Evening News, 22nd February Michael Mason, In Pursuit of Visual Rhymes, Times Literary Supplement, 22nd February Fenella Crichton, Ken Kiff at the Nicola Jacobs Gallery, Art and Artists, April Simon Vaughan‑Winter, Ken Kiff, Artscribe No. 22, April Stuart Morgan, Ken Kiff, Artforum, April 1981 Stuart Bradshaw, Ken Kiff, Talbot Rice Art Centre, Edinburgh, catalogue introduction, January
John Elderfield, New Work on Paper 1, Museum of Modern Art, New York, catalogue introduction, February John Russell, Landscapes at Edward Thorp Gallery, New York Times, 13th February Hilton Kramer, Art: Show on New Works Sets Example at Modern , New York Times, 13th February Keith Harley, Ken Kiff at Talbot Rice Art Centre, Art Monthly no. 44, March Kay Larson, Drawing on Strength, New York Magazine, 9th March John Ashberry, Pleasures of Paper Work, Newsweek, 16th March Peter Schjeldahl, Drawing Conclusions, Village Voice, 1st April Edith Schloss, The New Wave Sweeps New York, International Herald Tribune, 2nd May. Hilton Kramer, Expressionism Returns to Painting, New York Times, 12th July A Vacuum Begins to be Filled, The Art Magazine, vol. 10, no. 3, Autumn Grace Glueck , Ken Kiff at Edward Thorp Gallery , New York Times, 16th October Waldemar Januszczak, The Subjective Eye, The Guardian, December Brooks Adams, Ken Kiff at Edward Thorp, Art in America, December Alister Warman, 13 British Artists, Neue Galerie ‑ Sammlung Ludwig, Aachen, catalogue introduction, December 1982
lisabeth Sussman, Issues: New Allegory 1, Institute of E Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachussetts, catalogue introduction
Alexandra Beaton, New Painting in Britain, Flash Art, no. 118, Summer Vivien Raynor, Ken Kiff at Edward Thorp, New York Times, 3rd December 1983 Iain Biggs, Uses and Abuses of Myth, Artscribe no. 38, January Richard Armstrong, Ken Kiff, Artforum, February ohn Russell, New Art Animates the Tate, New York Times, 9th October Waldemar Januszczak, Shock of the Nude, The Guardian, 15th November John Russell Taylor, A Message of Entranced Delight, The Times,13th December Peter Fuller, The Stuff of Dreams,New Society, December Michael Billam, Ken Kiff, Artscribe no. 44, December 1984 Alexander Moffatt, Retrieving the Image, catalogue introduction to the British Art Show, Ikon Gallery and City Museum, Birmingham
Timothy Hyman, Ken Kiff, catalogue introduction The Proper Study, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, British Council touring exhibition Miranda McClintic, Content: Making, Meaning and Referentiality, catalogue introduction to Content: A Contemporary Focus 1974‑84, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC 1985 S.V. Vasudev, Great Painters Great Painting, The Times of India, 11th February Martha Kapos, Chagall and Figurative Painting, Artscribe no. 52, May‑June Michael Sheperd, catalogue introduction to Ken Kiff in The British Show , curated by William Wright and Anthony Bond, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia (touring) William Feaver, Ken Kiff, Vogue, December William Feaver, Kiff’s Magic Touch, Observer Magazine, 26th January Timothy Hyman, The Meeting of Contrasted Elements, Ken Kiff Paintings 1965-85, Arts Council catalogue Martha Kapos, Illuminating Images, Ken Kiff Paintings 1965-85, Arts Council. catalogue 1987
ean Kelly and Edward Lucie‑Smith, The Self‑Portrait: S A Modern View, Sarema Press, London, August
Timothy Hyman, Mapping London’s Other Landscape, Art International, Autumn 1988 Marina Warner, The Tree of Life: New Images of an Ancient Symbol, South Bank Centre, Spring Martha Kapos, Ken Kiff, Art Monthly, July-August, No. 118 1989 Malcolm Miles, Shadows and Rainbows, Ken Kiff, Alba, April Alistair Hicks, The School of London, Phaidon Press, London, June 1990 Olinda Adeane, Kiff and Kin, Mirabella, December 1990/ January 1991 Penelope Bennett, Ken Kiff, Modern Painters, vol. 3, no. 4, Winter 1990/91 1991 Andrew Lambirth, In Conversation with the Artist, Ken Kiff, The Artist’s and Illustrator’s Magazine, issue 54, March Alistair Hicks, Introduction to Ken Kiff Recent Work, Marlborough Fine Art, London Guy Burn, Ken Kiff: Prints, Arts Review, 14th June Arthur Berman, Kiff pipe dreams and other fantasies, TNT Magazine, 17th June The Times, 21 June Adrian Searle, Ken Kiff, Time Out, 26th June
28th June Andrew Lambirth, Journey Into The Unknown, Royal Academy magazine, no. 31, Summer James Burr, The secret path, Apollo, September Sarah Jane Checkland, Home-grown variety, The Times, 26 October 1992 Jason Goodwin, Artists of the Floating World, Vogue, April Keith Patrick, Three Generations, Pasmore, Kiff, Briggs - Vera Grodzinski Gallery, Artline International Art News, Spring Sue Hubbard, Ken Kiff - London Print Workshop, Time Out, 22-29 July 1993 Art for Sale - the catalogue of British Art today, published with The Guardian, November Penelope Dening, Print Matter, Homes and Gardens, December Judith Bumpus, Winning Strokes, The Sunday Times Magazine, 7 February Shop Window, Arts Review, June Nicholas Turpin photograph, Ken Kiff at the National Gallery, The Independent, 19 October Rada Petrovic, Ken Kiff Interview, Artists and Illustrators Magazine, October Ken Kiff, Thoughts on being at the National Gallery and Norbert Lynton, Ken Kiff at the National Gallery, introduction to exhibition catalogue, National Gallery Publications, October 1993-January 1994 William Packer, Waiting for the final resolution in residence, Financial Times, 26 October William Feaver, Kiff reverts to his happy hunting ground, The Observer, 28 November Richard Cork, Unfinished business on his easel, The Times, 7 December Tom Lubbock, And here’s one that was done earlier, The Independent, 14 December Great Expectations, Art Review, December 1993-January 1994 A Year of Art for London Lighthouse: British Painting, London Lighthouse Contemporary misery, Hampstead and Highgate Express, 24 December Andrew Lambirth, Making no Division, Royal Academy Magazine, Winter, No. 41 Keith Patrick, Ken Kiff at the National Gallery, Contemporary Art, Winter
Mary Rose Beaumont, Ken Kiff, Arts Review, 28th June
1994 Henrietta Howard, Gallery Guide - Image Makers, House and Garden, January
Sue Hubbard, The Road less travelled, New Statesman Society,
Gabriele Magnani, Crivelli e Rubens ispirano Ken Kiff al Museo
1995 Hidden art - an American Passion, Kensington and Chelsea Times, 20 October
The British Council
William Packer, John Moores - A home for the painters, Financial Times, 24 October
Göteborgs Konstmuseum, Gothenburg, Sweden
Tim Hilton, Who needs London? The Independent on Sunday, 5 November 1996 Iain Gale, The strong, silent type - the John Moores Prize, The Independent, 9 January
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio, USA The Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin, USA Museum of Modern Art, New Orleans The Museum of Modern Art, New York
1997 Martin Gayford, British Figurative Art, Part One: Painting The Human Figure, exhibition catalogue, Flowers East, London
Rugby Museum and Art Gallery
Malcolm Miles, Something Unknown must be Eaten or Drunk, Point - Art + Design Research Journal, No. 5, Spring/Summer
Würth Museum, Künzelsau, Germany
1999 Andrew Lambirth, Ken Kiff and the Weather in the Soul, exhibition catalogue introduction, Marlborough Fine Art, London William Packer, Invitation to a very happy 100th birthday party, Financial Times, 7 March Rose Aidin, Pleasure in pastels, Evening Standard, 13 March 2001 William Packer, Colours on a grey country, Weekend FT, 15 December Ken Kiff, Play Magazine from The Times, 22 – 28 December 2002 Stephen Farthing, Portrait of the artist outside big picture, The Times
Tate Britain, London
INTERVIEWS Artists on Bonnard, Ken Kiff in conversation with curator Colin Wiggins, 8th May 1998, Tate Gallery BOOKS 1977 Michael Foss (ed.) Folk Tales of the British Isles, Illustrated by Ken Kiff, Macmillian, London
Higher Education Supplement, 26 April
1979 The Magic Ring and other Folk Tales, retold by Robert Chandler, with dust-wrapper and black and white illustrations by Ken Kiff.
Janet McKenzie, Ken Kiff by Andrew Lambirth, Studio International, June Issue (internet)
1998 Norbert Lynton: Ken Kiff’s Sequence, Edited by Iain Biggs, MakingSpace Publishers, Bristol
2008 Tom Lubbock, Ken Kiff and Peter Doig: Psychodrama, on canvas, The Independent, 14 February
2001 Andrew Lambirth: Ken Kiff, Foreword by Norbert Lynton; epilogue by John McLean, Thames & Hudson Ltd, London
OBITUARIES Ken Kiff, 65, Artist Devoted to Fantasy, The New York Times, 6 March Norbert Lynton, Painter on a poetic journey into colour, The Guardian, 16 February Painter who developed a fantastical figurative idiom all his own, The Times, 23 February Martha Kapos, Ken Kiff, The Independent Weekend Review, 17 February PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Ackland Museum, Chapel, Hill, North Carolina, USA Arts Council of Great Britain The Archive of The Ballinglen Arts Foundation, Ireland. The British Museum
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