Current:
Solo Show at Outset Gallery Galway
May 3rd to May 25th 

A series of hand painted assemblages and constructions. These process driven works explores a specific set of interplays between bold zones of colour, repetitive rhythmic patterns, hard edges and stark boundaries.



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Curated by Outset Gallery Co-Director Tom McLean
Exhibition Text by Meadhbh McNutt


Fault & Fold presents a series of works at Outset Gallery, blending audio, sculpture and contemporary painting. Ed Kelly is an artist based between Dublin and Berlin — a true multi-hyphenate with a practice that borrows from split careers in graphic design and experimental music.

Ed’s constructions form in layers of abstract shapes punching through everyday settings in bold, flat colour. Musical motifs in sharply contrasted tones and repeating lines. Ed clearly knows how to play with the perceptions of his audience—an art for which life as an active musician has trained him well.

Making Time

When approached to write about Ed’s work, I had been thinking about cycles of time within an artist’s life. Time is a huge component in creative practice, too often overlooked. We tend to talk about art practice as a constant — the Sol LeWitt dream of a lengthy, daily studio routine*, bankrolled by gallerists. No base human distractions, like babies, rent, health issues or duties of care. The reality is that few of us gain access to this lifestyle. Ed is no different; after gaining opportunities in freelance design, he helped set up an independent creative agency with a like minded partner and began building his creative projects around commercial work and other life priorities. The skills of one craft bled into another, and his visual practice came about in cycles and phases.

“Right now is a good time for me to focus on this work,” he explains. “It’s the realities of life. You have to be prepared to move quickly once you get the time or space to do something. My practice has evolved to be mobile; each project begins in graphic design. I grab pieces of time here and there to work on compositions. Then, I focus on the larger-scale construction on Fridays—the only day that I can spend nine-to-five in the studio. It’s all about time.”

Keeping Time

When I ask Ed about the sense of rhythm and repetition throughout the lines and patterns, he laughs. Ed is a drummer, and paired-back rhythm is the language of drumming. “Music plays a part in how I sketch things out. I use repetitive motifs, and that comes from working with musical motifs, as well as design libraries.”

Art installations have their own specific tempo, a slower, more intimate pace than the live gigs that excited and exhausted Ed throughout his 20s. “Visual art is something I did in college that I always wanted to come back and devote time to. There are other priorities in life, but when you see an opening of a few months, you have to drop all procrastinations and just do it. If it’s not perfect, it’s not perfect.”

Adapting

And what is perfect in abstraction? The rules can be harder to place, and all the more slippery and intimidating for that reason. Alongside musical influences, Ed’s compositions stem in part from geological features in fields. “Abstract art can mean everything and nothing. The artist has rules around colour and composition, and yet it seems preposterous to point to something and say that it came from an interest in psychogeography. That’s true; it did, but how could you possibly draw something so personal from the art as a viewer? That’s also what I like about abstract art; the references are so personal that it’s ultimately about the making.”

Every work is wrestled out of a negotiation with limits, be they material, temporal or psychological. This might ultimately be the most annoying and interesting thing about making. Ed has learned to lean into unpredictability. “I originally wanted to do these hard-edged, nearly academic paintings, but I either didn’t have the time or couldn’t make it work. So, I ended up working with vectors on my laptop and using lasered materials to build layered sculptures. I had no idea at the beginning that these paintings would become wall assemblages.”

Despite great intentions set out in funding proposals, plans of action often bear little resemblance to whatever comes after the plan. Maybe you stumble across an image that lingers in your head. You buy the wrong ink. Your eyes can’t fixate on the screen anymore, so you grab a knitting needle. The negotiation continues. “It’s the most honest way of looking at practice. You have an idea at the beginning of what you’d like the thing to be, and then a hundred different things get in the way throughout that process of making.” What is consistent then, is a persistence in accepting the unexpected. A discordant note will always feel special, only if and when we learn to keep time.

*It’s worth noting that Sol LeWitt also led an artist’s double life for a long time, springboarding his practice with a career in graphic design and working nights at MoMA.

Meadhbh McNutt, April 2024

About Meadhbh McNutt:
Meadhbh McNutt is an Irish artist and writer. Her practice traverses art writing, photography and installation. Meadhbh has exhibited internationally in Ireland, the UK, Hungary, Poland and Hong Kong. Her words and photographs can be found in various publications including Tank Magazine, Circa Art Magazine, HeadStuff and the Visual Artists’ News Sheet.

About the artist:
Ed Kelly (aka Fault & Fold) works as a designer, artist and musician based in Dublin. He studied at IADT and graduated with a Degree in Design (B.Des) and a Diploma in Fine Art (Painting). Since 2020 he has had a series of shows (solo and group) at Lucky’s, Outset Gallery, Mend.HX, Guinness Storehouse, George Bernard Shaw, Hens Teeth and Fitzrovia Gallery London.