Castle rising from the sea (1993)
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Ken Kiff's heightened colours and vibrant, dream-like scenes resemble those of a children’s fairytale or a child’s nightmare. Colour and colour relationships interact in his paintings and prints with a range of images evoking the blissfully radiant and lyrical to the comic and disturbingly grotesque. Humans or animals take centre-stage in barely outlined landscapes, with violations of scale and perspective which have echoes of the work of Modernist painters he deeply respected and admired, Klee, Miro and Chagall, and pay homage to the style and concision of Chinese landscape painting which he so admired. Despite employing figurative forms in his work, Kiff had an intimate relationship with a technique; he was primarily concerned in pictorial form as opposed to representational meaning, yet he combined both aspects in order to get at something beneath their apparent differences. His deep personal knowledge of poetry and music further informed his sense of a painting’s structure. Kiff stayed true to his particular vision throughout his life.
Currently on display in Ken Kiff's solo exhibition Man, Bird and Tree at the Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate.
Ken Kiff RA remains an artist of fascination with many admirers including a new generation of figurative painters. His paintings, drawings and prints, created in a wide variety of media, are characterised by mythical landscapes and fantastic flights of the imagination, all produced with radiant saturated colours. At the heart of almost every work is a confrontation between people, animals and monsters that leaves at least one of the protagonists wide-eyed or open-mouthed. We are meant to be both bewildered and enchanted.