Mike Kelley is an artist born in Michigan, and is known to be one of the most influential artists to feature popular culture, youth rebellion, and the American class system in his works. His method is considered to be Expressionist, through which he expresses himself through his featured pieces. Kelley tragically passed away in 2012 and since then his work has been collected and shared throughout the world. During his lifetime, he was featured in many historical museums such as The Metro Pictures Gallery in Manhattan and the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles. He became widely known during the late 20th century, and throughout that period he would create and develop many other works that would dazzle the eye and intrigue the mind. On October 13, 2013, the largest exhibition of Kelley’s works opened in the Museum Of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition self-entitled “Mike Kelley” featured over 200 of his pieces from the start of his career up until his final days.
Kandors takes Mike Kelley’s interest of American comic hero, Superman, and adds his own flair to the history of the character. Kandor is Superman’s rightful place of birth, and although Superman believed it was destroyed it was very well intact. The villain, Brainiac, prior to the destruction of Krypton, shrunk the city down to the size of a miniature model and left it trapped inside of a glass bottle. After many battles with Brainiac, Superman eventually takes control of the contents and leaves it for safe keeping under his watchful eye in the Fortress of Solitude. Using an atmosphere that replicates the atmosphere of Krypton, Superman keeps the citizen safe and out of harm’s way.
His selected pieces, which have no titles, all have unique designs and factors that contribute to the inner sanctum of Superman’s mind. Being in isolation from the rest of humanity, you can see the dark halls and chains that are hanging from the decrepit walls and the worn out tanks of Kryptonain gas that was used to inject an atmosphere into the city of Kandor. With the powerful crimson coloring of an ice-like state that resembles the Fortress Of Solitude, it gives off the sense of anger, loneliness, betrayal and desperation of wanting to save his dying planet from the evils that once haunted it. The dark emerald that emerges from spire-like objects symbolizes the jealousy, sadness and isolation that he feels when he is saving his new “home.” Many believe Superman to be a god on earth, and many believe that he is a curse sent to destroy all life on earth. Whether it is the former or not, Superman will always be the outcast of society.
Another of Kelley’s pieces that is larger than life is a replica of the minerals that were located on the planet of Krypton. Visitors can partake in the beauty and feel as if they were visiting the real world of Superman. The many dazzling colors and the haunting music echo through the rooms and surround the objects. Whether you are an avid comic book fan or a lover of the arts, Mike Kelley’s Kandors exhibition at the Hauser and Wirth museum will definitely send you to a dimension where you can feel as if you were thrown into the mind and psyche of Superman himself.
By Nick Marcin