Tim Kennedy | Social Contrasts

First Street Gallery

Mar. 1, 2024 - Mar. 26, 2022

526 West 26th Street, Suite 209
New York, 10001
PHONE 646 336-8053


For Thomas Hobbes, life during the period before history was “nasty, brutish and short”.

Humankind lived in a ‘state of nature’ which was a perpetually at war with itself. Early Modern political philosophers contrasted this mythical time with the notion of a ‘social contract’ that held unlimited impulses in check and allowed civil life to exist. In truth, these notions of limitless liberty versus civilization are in constant tension – this has never been more true than in today’s world.

Social Contracts is Tim Kennedy’s ninth solo exhibition at First Street Gallery. The subjects for his paintings are found in the benign settings of Midwestern public parks where anodyne activities such as fishing and camping occur. But the exhibition title hints at the darker, hyper divided atmosphere which pervades American life today and the uneasy tensions which live just beneath the surface of appearances. Mr. Kennedy’s paintings of these ostensibly pacific subjects require an undergirding of assumptions of civility and acceptance that we sometimes take for granted and which in recent times seems at risk. That is the hidden subject of this group of paintings. The exhibition runs from March 1 to 26, 2022.

Tim Kennedy’s paintings fall solidly into the tradition of painterly American realism that prizes the particular and the empirical. The paintings allow the viewer to examine the sharply experienced, yet ordinary event. The unspoken subject at the center of the paintings is the connection between people and the connection of people to their surroundings, whether people are the primary subject or whether the subject consists of landscape views or of objects. The paintings celebrate life as experienced through the senses. Mr. Kennedy’s use of oil paint favors visceral color and the undisguised presence of the artist’s hand. It is work on a human scale that manifests a direct encounter with perceptual experience, and conveys an atmosphere filled with light and air.

Examples of Mr. Kennedy’s work may be found at timkennedypaintings.com

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