The Drawers - Jim Kalnin  Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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The Spirits of the wilderness are welcomed into the cultural echelon of Western Art and maintain a secure foothold on the ladder of eminence through the work of Jim Kalnin. In this recent series, Kalnin has built environments of intersecting straight lines using perspective to create cityscapes where the Spirits of the wilderness explore. As civilized man further encroaches on the wild and aggressively asserts his dominion over beast, fish and fowl, Kalnin recoups. He acts as ambassador and channels the spirits of the wilderness into urban regions. Animus power shines supreme through the foothold of his work.

Kalnin's natural images are not realistically rendered but abstracted to become more the symbol of the creature than a depiction. It is the Spirit that inhabits the picture - in many incarnations. Similar to native naming, Bear wanders through the picture planes in his various guises - Yellow Bear, Great Bear or Bear from Mountain. They are archetypes. They are Spirits because they are occupying surreal spaces. Fish float above the monoliths like a crescent moon and this is because it is Glowing Moon Fish - the Spirit. Jim Kalnin's deep and personal knowledge of the symbolic fields of nature comes honestly. Having lived for many years in the remote Canadian wilderness, beyond the buzz of electrical lines, before cell phones, on the site of the grave of a Franciscan monk, he has communed with the native spirits. His name was Feather. He continues to grow in his communication with nature making frequent expeditions into the wilderness as a fisherman. His perception of those who inhabit the woods and streams is clear-sighted and potent. His art practice is secure as he reworks his close connection with nature in his country studio, an old wooden church. The result, the artwork is informed.

Jim Kalnin's work has always been infused with messages from the earth. Whether he is sculpting with woven twigs shaped into geometric enclosures like dream catchers or building graphic cities with oil-stick on paper for his Spirit acquaintances to explore, he helps us to connect with our own spirit.
 

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers