PUBLICATIONS 02.



1000 YEARS




IN CONVERSATION
WITH KELVIN GREY
08–06–2024





“A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it”
                               
 Reiner Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet



With his words, Rilke suggests that genuine art must come from an inner compulsion, a profound need within the artist. It is not merely about external validation, market demands, or following tendencies. A deep-seated necessity drive that compels the artist to create because they have to, not because they choose to.





STUDIO NAPLES by KELVIN GREY (2022)







STUDIO INSIGHT / PUSH AND PULL

“In my experience, each painting begins with a profound longing, a necessity to conjure a place that merges memories and references into a new, imaginary landscape. This initial phase involves preliminary sketches drawn from two or three different sources, as a first attempt to give form to an internal vision that asks to be realized. However, once the actual painting begins, the process transforms into an ongoing struggle, a constant push and pull between forming the image and destroying it.”

The necessity drives the creation, but it also drives into a relentless battle with the medium. Like Rilke’s notion of necessity, It feels as if the painting holds a will, resisting and redirecting the intentions. The result is a battle of intense, tangible experiences where each layer is a decision made in the heat of conflict. Layer after layer, the painting evolves through this struggle, each adding complexity and depth, obscuring previous intentions, and navigating with the flames of intention, through the chaos, toward a resolution.  


                                 “Living in Napoli for three years has been like a fever dream, a stark contrast to the mundane continuity and predictability of northern Europe.”


The city's intensity broke down and transformed away from the commercial pressures of the art world and academic institutions. Napoli is a raw, unfiltered dynamism that seeps into the work, and the choice to live in Napoli has profoundly shaped the creative process. The city’s intense, chaotic liberating energy contrasts with the schematic northern Europe, providing an environment where the necessity to create, and its battle, can unfold organically.

Because it is a metropolis and feels like a port at the end of the world, Napoli is the intensity of the experience that broke and changed for the better permeating my work, bringing the sense of urgency and authenticity mentioned in the beginning back to its most tangible form.



STUDIO PORTRAIT by CARMINE COVINO (2022)





STUDIO NAPLES by KELVIN GREY (2022)

CLOSE UP by CARMINE COVINO (2022)





 by KELVIN GREY (2022)







THE 1000 YEAR RULE  / THOUGHTS AND VISIONS


With my close friend and artist Tianxu Liu, we often talk about the timespan we are creating for and how that affects not only the work itself but also its reception, and the longevity of its aura. Tianxu calls this the ‘1000 year’ rule. He says that my work is created for the next 1000 years rather than the next 100 years, meaning its aura should stand the test of time, even if over the next 100 years it is not necessarily appreciated or part of the current zeitgeist.


                            "The unique value of the 'authentic' work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value. This ritualistic basis, however mediated it may be, is still recognizable as secularized ritual even in the most profane forms of the cult of beauty."

*Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction


In Walter Benjamin’s conception of the aura being a presence in time and space that is held in a piece, each work has an inherent aura due to its place in history and the ongoing process of becoming. When I create a preliminary sketch I often look to the past, and present, and project into a future imaginary, combining these different time markers. To find such places I usually look to archive images, ruins, or places of worship. Then I consider how these places could look if nature took over, whether that be in the form of environmental disaster, lack of human activity, or divine intervention.






Places of worship and ruins often carry a strong aura already, so approaching them feels natural out of my curiosity and admiration for places that hold a sense of history and longevity. Working from memory started to play more of a role during my time in Napoli, because as I explored the city and surrounding areas certain places deeply stuck with me and became part of my visual consciousness, in a way that doesn’t happen to me in Northern Europe. Now that I’m back in Berlin I continue to return to this visual bank of time and place markers, so I feel that landscape continues to build the foundation of the paintings.

I’m now focusing on a reworking of Hieronymus Bosch’s four-panel work, titled ’Visions Of The Hereafter’, housed in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. The series shows four distinct stages: the garden, the flood, the judgment, and the fire. The paintings I am currently working on ponder upon the future of nature as we know it, and the degradation from a ‘Terrestrial Paradise’ to the disturbing scenes of flooding, fires, and storms. I focus on finding recurring themes and parables in art history and collecting visual and theoretical references to create my ‘memory theater’, relevant to a highly contemporary question and both valid archaically through time, for 1000 years.



TERRESTIAL PARADISE / Oil, emulsion and metal leaf on canvas. 130 x 160. (2024)

WHAT ARE WE / Oil, emulsion gold and silver leaf on canvas. 260 x 370. (2023)








ABANDONING 
THE NEST
/ INTROSPECTION AND RESILIENCE



Leaving the nest is a profound and often challenging transition for any artist. It encapsulates the journey from the security and structured environment of an educational institution to the uncertain and demanding reality of the art world. This journey is fraught with personal and professional struggles, together with the need for deep introspection and resilience. It's a journey marked by moments of doubt and triumph, where perseverance becomes the key to transforming potential into reality.

Every painting I create is a testament to this journey. It begins with an intense longing to capture an image that, in reality, I will never be able to render perfectly. This inherent imperfection is both a challenge and a driving force. There are moments during the creative process when I feel like giving up, unable to see any end to the work. Yet, a sense of faith prevents me from abandoning the piece. This faith comes as an Echo of the larger journey of trusting that the experiences and struggles will eventually lead to personal and artistic growth.

Entering UdK (Universität der Künste Berlin) was a significant milestone. The time spent working independently in the studio was invaluable. However, the thought of leaving this institution is frightening: there is a false sense of security within the school’s walls, and graduation does not guarantee the continuity or sustainability of a career. The German art system emphasizes independent development without considering market demands, which is beneficial during school but provides little support post-graduation. In contrast, the UK system, with its shorter academic timelines, focuses more on career success post-institution. Both systems have their advantages, drawbacks, and different aspects of the transition from the safe nest.

Returning to Berlin, where I first embarked on my artistic education, feels like closing a circle. Leaving after my first year in art school marked a significant break. Returning to finish my studies and prepare to leave the city brings a sense of closure to a continuous process of balancing security and independence, embracing uncertainty, and trusting in the organic development of both art and career. It’s about recognizing when it’s time to move on, despite the comfort of familiar surroundings, and believing that each struggle and departure will eventually lead to a more profound realization of one's potential.




FROM STUDIO IN NAPLES by CARMINE COVINO (2022)



KELVIN GREY (B.1996) CAMBRIGDE, UK
SHE IS CURRENTLY TAKING HER MASTERS AT THE UDK UNIVERISTY IN BERLIN, 
GRADUATING SPRING 2025. 

www.clarakelvingrey.com
@bambolabuio

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