Seascape signed 'Ken Kiff' (lower right) acrylic on board 122 x 67.5 cm. (48 x 26 1/2 in.) Painted 1987-88
PROVENANCE: With Fischer Fine Art, London
EXHIBITED: Fisher Fine Art, London, Ken Kiff New Work, May-June 1988, cat.no.8
LITERATURE: Andrew Lambirth, Ken Kiff, Thames and Hudson, London, 2001, p.20 (ill.)
The enigmatically titled Seascape is entirely typical of Kiff's distinctive and accomplished hand. Noted by Kiff's biographer and Spectator art critic Andrew Lambirth as particularly 'poignant', Seascape is a prime example of Kiff's ability to create a scintillating dialogue between the exploration of painterly technique and the deeper layers of consciousness that so intrigued him.
Critical response to Seascape when it was first shown notes that it sits within 'a body of imagery so constituted in the stuff of painting and in the painter's relationship with a technique that it becomes a nonsense to think of formal attributes separately from the meaning' (Martha Kapos, Ken Kiff, Art Monthly 118, July/August, 1998).
This sense of play with the physical make-up of each work, in some instances leaving areas of canvas or board exposed is most skillfully employed in the Tate Gallery's 1983-6 work Triptych: Shadows. In Seascape, Kiff has cut back through the layers of paint revealing scratches of the prime coat and the board, and in doing so introduces a dynamic quality to the surface. Furthermore, the great consideration Kiff paid to the composition is underlined by the pentimenti surrounding the phoenix in the lower left quarter.
As stated in Art Monthly the year Seascape was completed, this uncompromising attention to technique pitched against Kiff's wonderfully poetic imagery means 'we are made acutely aware of the actual stuff of painting and at the same time of the value of its symbolic imaginative life within our lives.' (Op.cit).
We are grateful to Martha Kapos for her assistance in cataloguing this lot.