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KESHA BRUCE “The Guardians” featured in the Washington Post

3 Jan

Galleries Section, The Washington Post, January 3rd, 2014

by Mark Jenkins

Kesha Bruce

Spurred by a vision of a figure she saw standing at the foot of her bed, Kesha Bruce has executed nearly 200 mixed-media paintings of creatures she calls “The Guardians.” The Iowa-bred artist, who lives in France, draws on African iconography for these pictures, some of which are at Morton Fine Art. Most of the figures are ghostly, often faceless, like things seen in a half-awake state. Such guardians as “Thanos,” its blue head atop an elongated neck, evoke Africa’s traditional sculpture and decorative motifs. “Kiska,” its head apparently on fire, seems an outright hallucination.

Thanos, 24"x24", mixed media on canvas

Thanos, 24″x24″, mixed media on canvas

Yet the specters become palpable because of their hot, earthy colors and forceful brushwork. Indeed, the vigor suggests another tradition altogether: abstract expressionism. While the pictures are clearly representational, they’re also exercises in sheer painting. Areas of clean, bold color abut mottled regions; scraps of collaged fabric and textile-like circular patterns contrast the figures’ streamlined forms. Brown’s guardians may be dream-time wisps, but her painting makes them solid and potent.

Kesha Bruce: The Guardians

On view through Jan. 8 at Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW; 202-628-2787;