James Kennedy - Ostinato (Detail), 2014 - Courtesy of the artist

James Kennedy


Abstract Art, Painting


James Kennedy
James Kennedy
August 28, 2017
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James Kennedy is an Irish painter, best known his distinctive abstract landscapes which explore the connection between space and tonality. Born in County Down, Northern Ireland, Kennedy was educated throughout the UK, receiving two BA degrees – one from Royal Scottish Academy in Fine Arts, and the other from Rhodec Academy in Interior and Architectural Design. In 2003, Kennedy moved to New York. Along with ceramist Bob Bachler, he established Surface Library Atelier. He also won several awards in 2014, James Bridie Gold Medal is one of them.

artworks by james kennedy
James Kennedy – Whiel, 2016 (Left) / Dreamliner, 2014 (Right)

Space – Kennedy’s Subject

The main subject in Kennedy’s paintings is space. Drawing from his training in modern art, architecture and dance, and employing intricate systems of colors, tonality, forms, dots and incised lines, he thoroughly explores the potential of space and spatial interactions. His approach is intuitive, never premeditated. The forms are rather elusive, never fusing into a concrete, specific picture.

The main subject in James Kennedy’s paintings is space

the art of james kennedy
James Kennedy – Spansiv Lexical (diptych), 2015


Most of Kennedy’s earlier work is based on various abstract forms of landscape, but since 2007, he has begun drawing inspiration for his work from the British post cubists, abstract expressionist artists and Bauhaus painters. His paintings became more intuitive and textural, where he used deeper layers of media, primarily acrylic and oils. This yielded two of his series: Spatial and the more recent Architectures and Choreographies.

He uses deep layers of media, primarily acrylic and oils

james kennedy new work
James Kennedy – Nonobjectiv Sequence, 2017

Acrylic Color Explorations

As he moved his studio to New York City in 2010, Kennedy’s recognizable style grew only stronger and more distinctive. He switched entirely to acrylics and began exploring color field more profoundly. In spite of the seemingly complex and convoluted forms and structures (his paintings are often confused with collage), Kennedy’s goal is to ultimately present his paintings as unified and balanced.

Kennedy’s paintings are often confused with collage

james kennedy painting circular disposition made in 2017
James Kennedy – Circular Disposition, 2017


Kennedy has exhibited his work extensively throughout the United States. Some of his more notable exhibitions were Constructions + Compositions at the Miami’s Mindy Solomon Gallery in 2012, Morphosis in 2014 at the same venue, and C O N T I N U U M at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco.

The artist is represented by Dolby Chadwick Gallery.

James Kennedy lives in New York, where he creates from his studio in Long Island City.

Featured image: James Kennedy – detail of an artwork
All images copyright of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2017t h o u g h t f o r m sDolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2017syn.tac.ticCALLAN Contemporary, New Orleans, LASolo
2016Shape - ShiftingJohn Hartell Gallery, Cornell University, Ithaca, NYSolo
2015C O N T I N U U MDolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CASolo
2015Made In PaintGOLDEN Foundation for the ArtsSolo
2015sub struc turesCALLAN Contemporary, New Orleans, LASolo
2014MorphosisMindy Solomon Gallery, Miami, FLSolo
2013SystemsCALLAN Contemporary, New Orleans, LASolo
2013A Fine LineFlinn Gallery, Greenwich CT Solo
2013International Painting IIJeffrey Leder Gallery, NYC Group
2013Spatial Variations1stdibs 200 Lex, NYC Solo
2013Material MattersSouthampton Cultural Center, NY Solo
2013Retro FreshGalerie Werner, Pittsburgh, PA Solo
2012BalanceJeffrey Leder Gallery, NYCSolo
2012Constructions + CompositionsMindy Solomon Gallery, Miami FLSolo
2012Group ShowMelissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Springs, CAGroup
2011Group ShowAnne Loucks Gallery Chicago, IL Group
2010Landscape ShowBrooklyn Artist Gym, NY Group
2010In the MixGalerie Werner Pittsburgh, PASolo
2009Juan Bejar/James KennedySarah Nightingale Gallery, NYDuo
2009Nathan Joseph /James KennedySurface Library Gallery, NYDuo
2008Juried Summer ShowPeter Marcelle Contemporary, NYGroup
2008Revisiting AbstractionSurface Library Gallery, NYSolo
2008Spring InvitationalEric Ernst, NY Group
2007Group ShowGalerie Werner Pittsburgh, PAGroup
2007Spring InvitationalArlene Bujese Gallery, NYGroup