WRESTLING WITH ANGELS, New Work by Kesha Bruce

28 Dec

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For nearly a decade, Kesha Bruce has addressed issues surrounding African-American identity and spirituality in her work. The paintings on paper in her Wrestling with Angels series hint at an even deeper and more direct vein of inquiry into the nature of spiritual struggle in immediate confrontation with the contemporary world.
Inspired by the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with the angel, the 14 artworks depict two figures, of indistinguishable gender, who seem to be engaged in either an intimate dance or a violent struggle. In one work, a nearly transparent and elegantly rendered figure draws the second into a passionate embrace; while in another image, an ominous, imposing figure seems on the verge of striking a fatal blow.
With Bruce’s attention shifting more towards the exploration of contemporary spirituality, not surprisingly, the imagery in Wrestling with Angels has become more abstract. Each work is more an evocation of a psychological state than an illustration of a biblical narrative.
In stark contrast to Bruce’s past work, which combined photography, collage and text elements, these new works show real evidence of both the artist’s hand and personal impulses- intricate patterning and ornamentation collide with zones of chaotic brushwork; fluid washes of color overlap areas of stark linear mark-making, and even the paper itself literally buckles under the weight of the frenzied movement. The end result is a compelling synthesis of color and gesture, deeply informed by narrative, allegory and spirituality.
Wrestling With Angels will be up at Morton Fine Art through January 2nd, 2012
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