Keiger builds in multiple objects or images and leaves them for the viewer to find all of the clues he painstakingly includes. It’s no wonder that his work continues to be fresh and mysterious. There’s never an answer to his work, only a continuing adventure with the clues he has left for us.
Charles Keiger's paintings are great fun at first glance, and even more interesting when you try to figure out what the heck is going on. They blend a semblance of normal reality, obvious at first glance, with many mysterious and intriguing moments happening around the persons, objects, and activities presented.
Keiger paints inside out. He presents inside feelings and observations we all experience—the unspoken kind that go on inside the minds of each of us constantly—and shows how odd these feelings and thoughts seem when presented as part of the subject’s life in the real world. He often adds clues etched or carved into the frames that he builds for many of the paintings.
In each painting, people share the stage with the objects of their feelings or dreams or emotions. Keiger selects specific details from the tableaux he creates and presents them in larger-than-life images out of proportion to the setting. All of the pieces are there for the viewer to put together. A sense of fun, mystery, drama, and subtlety prevail.
Keiger's words express it best: "As a person I am attracted to those absurd moments in life that offer a sense of clarity. Those brief occasions that occur where you say to yourself, 'I am overjoyed to be a part of thing called life.' When I paint I attempt to convey that emotional state to the viewer."
Known as a painter with a combination of southern gothic and magical realism, Charles Keiger is a painter with a southern sensibility--the isolated guitar players, the dog and pony show (above), the big piece of "Sunday night cake" in the sky, the jockey urging his horse across the jet stream in the sky like a modern-day Icarus. The more you look at the paintings, the more the connections are suggested between the paintings and the best of southern writing. Playful and serious like a Eudora Welty story, but never in the darker territory of a Faulkner story or the more sinister characters in Flannery O'Connor.
Keiger's figures are ordinary people stopped still in a particular moment while the artist shows outside what's going on inside--some fantasy or the other, or a narrative of disjointed images that express visually a state of mind or the crux of a particular situation or emotion. His style is reminiscent of Magritte, though not quite as stark. There's a whole lot of story-telling going on in Keiger's paintings.
Chances are you will be attracted to these paintings at first sight. You will be drawn to their elegance, wit, and mystery, and about how feelings often come at us in strange ways that are deeply felt, but often go unspoken. It takes a painter to show us new ways to think visually. When all is said and done, the paintings remain paintings. The narratives are never finished, only suggested. They are fresh every time you look at them.
Charles will be in town for the exhibit opening:
Saturday, September 3, 2011, 6-9 pm
at The Arts Company
215 5th Avenue of the Arts, North