at INDEX Gallery
Words by Jadynn Wolff
When an object is formed, its purpose is left to accident and is open to an array of possibility. It holds no value as it is inanimate and without feeling. Purpose is something we build into the form; we give it a title, space and functionality. Until this happens, an object is left open for interpretation. Major Appliance is an articulate dialogue of physical reality versed through the construction and minimalistic demonstration of displaced applicable objects. It is brought to us by means of a solo exhibition presented by Scott Kemp and hosted at INDEX Gallery this past November.
Kemp’s body of work gains its title from a reference to a refrigerator. When looking closely at Kemp’s practice, and the structures involved, one will notice that there are no restrictions, even when considering the title, and so it is, as such, Major Appliance remains the same - uninhibited. Kemp states: “There is so much more possibility to an object when you are not aware of it.” He then explains an instance of his theory and relates it to a handle: “It is only a handle because that is what you are told it is.” The word “handle” defined as a noun within the English language is “The part by which a thing is held, carried, or controlled”. Kemp challenges this fact that is known to us, he then suggests that if the handle itself is stripped of it’s familiarity, put in a weird place, it then transforms and becomes something different completely. Kemp’s application of the language and the words of “Major Appliance,” when they are applied to something other than the actual meaning, the words become somewhat of metaphorical conduit for unexpressed variables within his extensive practice. This idea being somewhat introspective and elaborate is not distributed without a shade of self-expressed humor. His objects remain truthful within artistic context.
It is with my personal experience that Major Appliance becomes an analytical display of devices removing them of their physicality, giving them new motive and language. Scott Kemp’s objective in his practice is currently based on creating displaced applicable objects that echo actual devices carefully as to not to reference them directly.
I admit to Kemp, that his work provoked a string of thought that resonated within me when viewing these plastic “handles” and other like objects. When presented these things as they are mounted upon a wall, outside of it’s usual parameters Major Appliance began to stir up this motion of extreme curiousness that I just couldn’t shake. What is that constitutes any object to become art and art to become the object? It is in this instance the idea of Major Appliance then is a personal reminder that an object exists before it is defined. For instance, common objects such as tables, chairs, and handles began simply just as raw material, form, and idea. The construction of these objects require the same design, forethought and creativity as any type of artwork, even if it is just a handle, table, or chair. Functionality is required of these devices while maintaining a creative aesthetic, no matter how ordinary or extraordinary we think they are.
Kemp’s presentation is an inversion of this idea; his materials used are stripped of all familiarity and their usual purpose. Kemp achieves this concept by withholding specifics concerning his work and he utilizes this lack of detailed information in order to obstruct interference to their individual interpretation. The only shared details were the length of construction it took to complete Major Appliance, which entailed a period of two months. It is a small fact expressed by Kemp that even some pieces took nine instances of careful execution before they became the art.
During this time he gestated his idea and worked with his material it until it became finite, polished, and ready for public view. This exquisite attention to detail strikes me as a strong display of fine art with a mature distinction that cannot be overlooked. Kemp and the strength of his knowledge of materials enhances his skill that show in his use of paint and careful line work detailed on a sheet of industrial plastic, and is his repetition of an object over multiple constructs. Although Major Appliance is Kemp’s first solo show, his work has been showcased previously in-group shows. I first experienced Kemp at Dynamo Arts Association this past summer in an exhibition titled: It’s a Long Story, and again in Frontlines 2, which took place at the Robert Lynds Gallery. Kemp’s technique and methodical ingenuity remain true, and effectively consistent to what is known to me of his personal aesthetic and concepts therein.
Major Appliance is an effectively brilliant yet deeply understated extension of all things known about Scott Kemp and his practice. Kemp’s muted palettes, and contrary use of industrial materials, which upon initial observation hold an almost inconceivable artistic aesthetic - Kemp’s work remains an individualistic contrast to some of the more emotive and expressive art that lies inside Vancouver’s current art culture, commercial and independent. It is within Kemp’s active knowledge of self and his isolate relation to his materials and their devoted marriage to specificity in they then begin to inherit this less obvious yet unique sense of wonder. It is not because this movement toward more obvious emotive art is implied less credible or of lesser value, it is because of such artworks that Kemp obtains a welcomed alternate perspective to art.
Full photo documentation of Scott Kemp’s practice and his previous work can be found at: