Ken Price’s works on paper pull from the everyday and the impossible. His subject matters range from interior scenes devoid of objects or figural representation to exterior landscapes rampant with cars, freeways, billboards, and neon signs—Los Angeles, encapsulated. A constant favorite, and a form that he explored at length in both his drawings and sculptures, is the cup. Price saw the cup as a “pre-ordained structure” and pursued it until the form lost its functional allure and became a biomorphic abstraction. Cups provided a pre-established structure that could be worked over and stretched out without breaking. In a conversation with artist Vija Celmins, Price mentions how he was pursuant of a “local truth, which is limited but specific.” This negated the notions of abstract expressionism that came before him and the exploration of a universal truth that was devoid of everything but the purity of the work itself. Price was after a genuine guttural reaction that elicited an emotional response—something more human and playful at times.
Drawings preceded any other type of work for Price. “It’s where essential thinking goes on, and it’s the soul connection too,” he said. It allowed for flexibility in form and gave multiple avenues where a work could lead to, exist in, and be thought about. “I can look at different areas of imagery that never have to be resolved…I can play around with color…among other things, a good drawing can cut right to the essence of something.”
Ken Price: Works on Paper 1967-1995, March 23 - May 4, 2019. Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Los Angeles.