John Kelly

The Mirror Stages: Self-Portraits, 1979–2009

May 20 – July 17, 2009

Press Release

John Kelly
The Mirror Stages: Self-Portraits, 1979–2009
Alexander Gray Associates

Alexander Gray Associates presented a project with renowned performance artist, John Kelly. Since emerging on the East Village club scene in the early 1980s, Kelly’s enigmatic performance work has been presented at international venues and festivals. His performance work, blending elements of dance, story–telling, song and experimental theater, draw from fictional and historical figures and subject matter ranging from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the AIDS crisis to German Expressionist film. The cast of characters he has developed since the 1980s has morphed personal narrative with stylized and celebrated notables from Art History and culture, including the Mona Lisa, Caravaggio, Martha Graham, Egon Schiele, Jean Cocteau, and musical sources as varied as Gustav Mahler, Joni Mitchell, Robert Schumann, and Maria Callas.

A relatively unknown part of Kelly’s practice is his work as a visual artist. Since the 1970s, he has consistently created self-portraits, in the form of drawings, paintings, photographs and, more recently, with video. The studio time devoted to making these artworks is often a core part of the development of subsequent performance works. In the gallery exhibition, over 40 self–portraits were hung, salon–style, creating a portrait hall of Kelly’s many personae and faces, expressions and phases. Together, they showed Kelly’s sensitivity as a draftsman and painter, while providing psychological and stylistic threads through thirty years of dance, theater and music.