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Steve Keene

Steve Keene
Paintings, 2022
Acrylic on paper, 42 x 32cm

America’s most prolific artist, Steve Keene, has an approach to painting that began in his friendships with musicians. Seeing how they were able to connect with fans selling records, CDs and merchandise directly at gigs, Keene undermines the assumed status of fine art by mass producing hundreds of paintings at a time and selling them cheaply. Keene’s practice can be seen as a direct comment on the values and authenticity of commercial systems both within and beyond the art market. He has collaborated closely with the bands Silver Jews, Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Soul Coughing, Dave Matthews’ Band, and Merzbow – creating album art, video and stage sets, and posters.

Keene has created a series of 69 new paintings for ‘Cover Versions’. The series began with an LP cover which is quickly copied and rendered in broad brush strokes. The next is a copy of the one before, a copy of a copy. Mass produced, but by hand, when seen in series, the paintings’ repeated gestures, mistakes and irregularities become our point of focus, the familiarity of the original image changed and reclaimed by the artist.

Keene’s work is more aligned with the world of music and performance, and close association with musicians such as David Berman. He says of his work, “I want buying my paintings to be like buying a CD: it’s cheap, it’s art, and it changes your life, but the object has no status. Musicians create something for the moment, something with no boundaries and that kind of expansiveness is what I want to come across in my work.”

Steve Keene website
Brooklyn Magazine article

Steve Keene
69 Paintings, 2022
Installation view
Steve Keene
69 Paintings, 2022
Installation view
Steve Keene
69 Paintings, 2022
Installation view

COVER VERSIONS

A group exhibition curated by Anthony and Graham Dolphin
1 April - 1 May 2022, Abject Gallery, 27 Fawcett Street, Sunderland
9 July - 4 September 2022, Exeter Phoenix, Gandy Street, Exeter