Mike Kelley

I went to see this huge retrospective Kelley show at the Geffen Contemporary Museum, coming straight from the refined precision, of the Calder exhibit was probably a mistake. On show, was a huge body of Kelley's work that was very varied,encompassing many genres and mediums. Some of the work was very intriguing, the Bell Jar pieces particularly. A whole room full of pieces, with  a small screen in the corner showing Superman reading Sylvia Plath's poems "The Bell Jar". I especially like the exotic town scape made of what looked like colorful sandblasted glass ,inside a huge jar.

I didn't care for his assemblage pieces upstairs, using beads and other found materials, spray painted with metallic paint. The arbitrariness of the placement of each object really struck me after Calder's precision.

I loved the piece that looked like a giant bedspread lifted in places with what could have been buckets, impossible to know as they were covered up. In the distance on one wall was an iconic western landscape, colors all purple and yellow ocher reflected in the colors of the gigantic spread of cloth.

Some of his video pieces showed a wry humor, one piece with three screens that  alternated colors and short clips showing children having  misadventures, falling out of a tree for example. This video made two viewers laugh out loud initially until a feeling of tragedy seemed to strike and silence set in.

Generally I don't respond well to work that includes a lot of video or a lot of writing, and this show has both. I feel as though the artist is asking for an investment from me, and I sometimes feel resentful of this demand.The clarity of the Calder was so meditative, I could have looked at his pieces for ever, when I had to tear myself away I was left ,with a deep feeling of joy. The Kelley left me vaguely troubled, maybe it was wondering how a successful artist could have committed suicide, as Mike Kelley did in 2012. I wondered if I could see the seeds of his troubled life in his work and I think I could. I was  left with a more melancholy feeling.