Jeremiah Kille: Surfer, Skater, Contemporary Painter

“I’ve bounced around a lot in my art. It’s like music, sometimes I want to listen to The Pixies and sometimes I want to listen to Willie Nelson. Visually, there are so many things I’m interested in, so it’s hard for me to not pick up different styles and techniques,” says contemporary painter and onetime surfboard shaper Jeremiah Kille. This Northern California native feeds his love of surf and turf (he is an avid skateboarder) into energetic compositions, in which abstraction meets representation, and disparate images, patterns, and designs coalesce. Symbiosis is key to his approach. As he recently explained: “Generally my work largely emphasizes life and death, beauty and decay, the balance and symbiotic relationship of the two.”

Though certain motifs—elephants, matadors, birds, boats, and hot air balloons—may be found across his canvases, Kille keeps viewers on their toes by continually altering how and with what other elements they appear. He also alternates between producing compositions that are entirely abstract and ones that explode with imagery. Among his more complex works are those centered upon bullfighting. Of these he has said: “[I] have an early memory of my grandmother telling me about her travels to Spain ... She loved the place and the people; while she [was] in Spain she was able to watch a few bullfights. She talked about how gruesome the events were. As a kid I was mesmerized by her tales of travel. I’ve always been enamored with the pageantry and color of bullfighting.” His fascination with this sport is evident in El Momento Sagrado (2014), a large-scale, mixed media painting featuring a muscular, black bull charging a matador’s outstretched cape. Roses and targets go flying across the picture plane, while the matador holds steady, looking down with calm determination at his animal challenger. This scene plays out against an exuberantly painted abstract background, echoing the tumultuous energy between man and beast, and foreshadowing the blood soon to be spilled.

Karen Kedmey

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