Left of Normal: The Art of Mark Kielkucki
Somewhere between David Lynch and Tim Burton is the artist Mark Kielkucki.
At first glance, his Technicolor palette brings a smile to the face. The clarity and purity of light calls to mind childhood summers of years ago, when it was safe to leave in the morning and not return until dusk.
But take a moment to look through the surface and you’ll discover that the world of Mark Kielkucki is one step left of normal.
Children play in pools of water or by the seaside while unidentified flying objects hover (Coming Home I and II). Bodies levitate or drop slowly to earth while African tribesmen watch with casual nonchalance (Fallen Star, Falling Stars). In one of my favorites, Kielkucki’s sense of the absurd reaches new heights as a woman dressed with pearls and black pumps wields an Electrolux vacuum on the sandy beach while two swimmers frolic in the waves.
Coming Home I/II and Falling Stars (middle) ~ 2013 - Acrylic on watercolor paper
Mark Kielkucki’s landscapes call to mind the California painter Wayne Thiebaud. Both artists see the world in candied light. But Kielkucki’s lush, purple shadows and frenetic brush work create a sense of presence, place and time. His landscapes sit on the canvas with a quirky sensibility reminiscent of photos we took as children with our Brownie Reflex camera. The horizon line isn’t quite level. We’re thrown slightly off-balance. Made to feel ill-at-ease. In several of his paintings there is a swipe of color at the upper edge of the canvas. What is it? Another UFO? A reflection from the sun? In my favorite from this group, Amtrak North (Delaware), the glimpse of orange feels like an intruder on an otherwise perfect day. Or perhaps those slashes of color are anchors that hold us in place. That keep our eyes on the canvas.
Amtrack North paintings ~ 2013 - Acrylic on watercolor paper - 15 x 20 inches each
Mark Kielkucki is an artist who startles the emotions. He can, at times, bring me to tears.
His painting Night Vision sweetly recalls Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Four silhouettes on a damp, foggy night. They stand on a corner, bathed in warm, gold light from the diner behind them and the tall street lamps above. At first the image evokes an inexplicable longing. And then, when the eye scans the painting again, we understand why. The silent silhouettes waiting on that corner include Popeye and Mickey Mouse. This painting is about more than mere nostalgia. This painting mourns lost childhoods.
Kielkucki’s Night Vision makes me sad. And that is what good art does. It demands a response. It turns our perspective a bit upside down. In our digital age artists no longer need to record the world as we see it. They can, instead, tap into our wild, collective psyche.
And that’s why I enjoy the weird and wonderful work of Mark Kielkucki. He keeps me on my visual toes. He makes me smile and cry in a single breath. I never really know what’s going to happen next.
~ Mimm Patterson
Two Paintings ~ A Review
Two Paintings, One Day in June ~ 1981 - various media on paper - 12 x 25 inch
These two paintings are so powerful, especially together. What these evoke for me is looking down over a place, a specific place in time. Complex, lots going on, people are interacting with each other and with the landscape. There is richness about this work that is very engaging. The blues and aquamarine tones make me think of water, the red brings to mind passion—summer heat. Seeing them together reminds me of shifting from one frame to the next—a progression of time. Movement is the word that comes to mind. It’s interesting because the work is tight—compressed—but there is fluidity about it and having those two things juxtaposed together is why I think these paintings are so powerful. They are complicated which draws the observer into the work. There does seem to be focal points but as an observer I am drawn to explore all areas of the work. I want to examine each corner—each brush stroke. Also borders and boundaries come to mind too--where things touch, merge and change.
~ Patricia Busbee
Shark Quartet ~ A Review
Shark Quartet ~ 2013 - Acrylic on canvas- 16 x 20 inch
I am not an art critic. I grew up surrounded by art and artists. I am a pretend artist. A wanna be with little talent. I can’t draw but I’m fierce with power tools. I love art that is useful and made from rusty bits and weathered materials. I am moved by metal and texture and when I have a visceral response to something I call it good.
I had my eye on Mark’s ‘Jumping Girl’ for a few months. I was watching her and trying to decide if I should bring her home and make her mine when Mark posted the ‘Shark Quartet’. I had a physical reaction. It was a sense in the pit of my belly that the shark would watch out for me. I felt the marriage of music and water flow through me and the layers of meaning are evident in each brush stroke. The shark for me represents the endangered human species. The passion filled violence of which he is capable while appreciating the space he occupies is mind boggling and reminds me to stay connected to that which is frightening and ever so delicate in order to more effectively particpate in the whole.
So I bought my first painting. It tickles me that it was created by someone I feel close to in spirit. And he didn’t make fun of me when I asked if it had to be framed or could be left on the stretchers. Every day, the ‘Shark Quartet’ makes me smile. Thank you Mark, for sharing your visions.
~ Alex O'Malley
Vincent Doesn't Paint Here Anymore ~ A Review
Vincent Doesn't Paint Here Anymore ~ 2013 - 17 x 28 inches - Acrylic on watercolor paper
As an artist of over thirty years myself, I look at art from all over the world almost every day. It is my passion and profession. Once in a while I stumble across an image that really hits home, strikes me, has that unqualifiable 'something special'. That image for me most recently is Mark Kielkucki's breathtaking 'Vincent Doesn't Paint Here Anymore.'
At once there is a lightness and a worldlinss, something slightly ominess and yet vibrant and playful. It's an homage - but it's completely original in it's style and composition. I am blown away by this piece of art. Then when I discovered Mark's website and the visual banquet of other works, it was confirmed that it was the work of a true modern day artistic talent. I say, "Bravo!"
~ Lewie JPD
Click here to review these and additional paintings by Mark Kielkucki