(Lifted, 2009, 40″x30″, acrylic on panel)
You can see more at this link. Let me know if you find yourself both quietly mesmorized and disturbed as you take in his images.
From his “about” page:
Josh Keyes was born in Tacoma, Washington. He received a BFA in 1992 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in 1998 from Yale. Eighteenth-century aesthetics and philosophies, particularly those of the Neoclassical and Romantic movements, shape his work. Keyes is drawn to the clinical and often cold vocabulary of scientific textbook illustrations, which express the empirical “truth” of the world and natural phenomena. He infuses into a rational stage set many references to contemporary events along with images and themes from his personal mythology and experience. These elements come together in an unsettling vision, one that speaks to the hope, fear, and anxiety of our time. Keyes currently lives and works in Portland Oregon with his wife, graphic designer Lisa Ericson.
Excerpt from “Animal Planet”, by George Melrod
Alternately passionate and playful, outraged and absurd, the artwork of Josh Keyes is memorable both for its resonant imagery and the haunting themes those images convey. Vividly imagined and exquisitely realized, his work is at once highly personal and very much of its time. While it spans a variety of approaches, Keyes’ overall subject matter remains consistent, evincing a fascination with the intersection of the animal realm and the built human landscape, and the imperiled role of wilderness in a rapidly changing global environment.
Perhaps these pictures aren’t really all about animals but about the conflict between nature and society within our own human consciousness. Keyes’ images, in their way, suggest that the division between an intricately self-absorbed society and the connection to nature within us is an artificial one that can no longer be sustained. One can read his work as a plea to let the natural collective consciousness within us emerge, to find a balance within ourselves that contains a place for the other creatures of this planet, with whom we are more connected and co-dependent than we may care to admit.
Keyes’ artworks are neither optimistic nor nihilistic. If anything, they seem to hover between fear and fury, between sorrow and acceptance. But they do contain a level of urgency, addressing such exigent issues as the extinction of species and the emergence of a new global topography. In grafting a dreamlike pictorial language to a passionate ecological concern, he has not only carved out a fertile chunk of postmodern art world territory, but found his own bully pulpit, and catharsis.
George Melrod, editor of Art Ltd. Magazine. He has written extensively about contemporary art and culture for Art News, Art in America, Art & Antiques, among many other publications.