Words by Oliver Monaghan
Our lives are often a work of fiction, comprised of the tales we tell ourselves, which in turn we tell others. Little white lies weave into the fabric of our stories, eventually taking the form of truths. Alternate to our realities but in actuality, they are no less a part of our existence. Obsessed with the mythologies of the past, we, in turn, become myths as we chisel out an effigy in gas and air that best represents the space which we inhabit alone. For some, an embellishment here and there can help our humdrum existence take on greater meaning, more riveting to the naked eye than the cold and sobering facts. For others, however, their words and visions can transcend reality, creating the source of legend that has the power to bewitch to the point that the truth is no longer of any note or relevance.
In the case of American visionary Andy Kehoe, the latter is unmistakably a more fitting description. His artist’s bio alone is a work of small fictions. A beautifully incoherent string of fables tethered together only by an apparent love of bourbon. Kehoe’s life story perfectly set the tone for some of the most intriguingly mythological works of art that I have ever had the pleasure of losing myself in. Whether it be a tale of childhood bloodlust deep in the Romanian countryside, or learning the importance of male assertion from an adoptive family of iguanas, the witty enigma Kehoe has figured himself as reveals, in part, a little more about the fantastical worlds in which he creates.
Born and raised in the American ‘City of Steel’, Pittsburgh, PA, Kehoe spent much of his childhood rabidly consuming comic book after comic book. Absorbing the fables and fantasies of great American cartoonists offered Kehoe a superlative introduction to the illustrated form. The young artist developed a sense of wonderment that would enable his imagination to take form without limitation. Following his graduation from high school, Andy dabbled with various university art courses, before finally settling on an illustration course at the internationally renowned Parsons School of Design in New York. It is here, under the tutelage of Jordan Isip, that Kehoe had his first taste of commercial success when the former featured Andy’s work in a group show at a gallery in Brooklyn. His work, hung next to pieces by other artists whom Kehoe admired, sold. This exposed him to the possibility of being able to carve a living from exhibiting his pieces in galleries as opposed to scraping by as a freelance illustrator. It was also at Parsons that Kehoe learned the importance of developing a unique visual language, forming a vocabulary that would not only engage his audience but (in Kehoe’s case) transport them to a truly new plane of existence.
Kehoe’s practice is somewhat experimental, combining the three core artistic disciplines of painting, illustration, and sculpture to form works with a rich depth of field and a deeply tangible presence. The use of resin, into which he often blends various hues of oil paint, enables Kehoe to make his work more of an immersive experience. Applying layer upon layer of the material to strategically chosen areas in order to replicate the organic textures of the natural world Kehoe’s artistic practice has been greatly informed by the Yellowstone or The Redwoods National Parks of his homeland.
For the most part though, Kehoe’s worlds are a work of pure fiction, with mythical beasts and entities interacting to create an almost spiritual narrative in a vast and ethereal wilderness. His artistry is a true testament to the countless possibilities that can be accomplished with a untarnished imagination and talent to boot. After all, with a developed imagination you can go anywhere and who wants to live in reality, when a fantasy is just SO much better!”