November 12, 2015
Ken Delmar announces “Primalism” a new genre:
Primalism, A Brand New/Ancient Genre
In an effort to be more specific than the term “contemporary” about the art I do today I am identifying myself as the practitioner of a new genre: Primalism. Primal art is totally original art created from scratch. Totally original means there is no copying, appropriation, tracing, projecting, re-engineering, sampling, filtering, or altering someone else’s creation just enough to possibly be defined as a new work. Often, a primalist has no model or scene to work from. The primal artist works from his mind’s eye, memory, heart, emotion, fear, love, lust, id or gut.
Often, when the primal artist approaches a surface, medium or material, he or she has no idea what he or she is going to create. The primalist ideally starts from a tabula rasa, clearing his or her mind as much as possible of external influences, other styles, other artists, art history, teachers, mentors, collectors, clients, art school, critics, jurors, docents, committees, trends, fads, digital media, social media, public relations spin, applications, art fairs, art advisors, gallerists, art magazines, art writers, arbiters of taste, experts, online galleries, friends, family, and the wild aspiration to achieve, perhaps even during one’s lifetime, the astronomical sale prices seen in high-profile auctions in major cities.
While “primal” is a new genre, it is also an ancient one; in fact the oldest of all. The Paleolithic cave artists of Europe and Asia were primalists. They painted from their memory, heart, emotion, fear, love, lust, superstition, id or gut. There were no images offered by the Internet, TV, Hollywood, magazines, newspapers, comic books, Google images, art books, galleries, museums, image libraries, stock houses, art schools, art websites, or art videos on YouTube.
Andy Warhol is credited with having said, “Modern Art is what you can get away with.” As the founder and king of appropriation art, he got away with more than any other artist, and continues to do so today posthumously. But even he would probably be amazed at how brazen the whole-cloth appropriation of other people’s work has become. It’s clear that stealing is unfair and affects the person stolen from, but recourse is not often pursued because the law has not been clear on this issue. The apocryphal bottom line is that if an artist takes another artist’s work and changes it somewhat, it’s okay. Has “somewhat” been quantified in any specific way? Not really. It depends on the fame, chutzpah and cost of your lawyer, and the disposition of the judge. How can you quantify nuances in a work of art? Appropriation art, and any art that is overtly derivative of an existing work, whether the artist gets away with it or not, is diametrically the opposite of primal art.
Examples of primal art: Stone Age art. Pre-historic cave art. Fertility images. Much of folk art. Much of “primitive” art, both ancient and modern. Some Romanticism (Turner’s later work), Some post-impressionists (Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne), Many fauve works (Matisse, Kandinsky, Kirchner); Much original cubist and futurist work (Picasso, Braque, Leger, Boccioni); Dada, dreams and the subconscious (Magritte, Dali, Duchamp); Abstract and Abstract Expressionism (Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko); Pop art marked the beginning of establishment-approved wholesale copying of popular images for fun and profit.
Any artist who creates original, non-derivative works from his own mind and hand is a primalist. Any artist that you can reasonably call an “original” can most likely be called a primalist. Primal art can be figurative, representational, or abstract. Most largely self-taught artists are primalists, or most of their original work is primal: Johannes Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Rousseau, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses, Jean Michel Basquiat are examples that come to mind.
An artist who appropriates an image, either in the public domain or not, and adds a mark or two, or a dab of paint or two, and then signs the image is not a primalist. An artist who does nothing more than sign a work that has been created and executed wholly by assistants is not a primalist. In fact, such an “artist” is more appropriately categorized as a con-artist.
A primalist may well be the proverbial “starving artist,” or he or she may be wildly famous and successful, like Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Cezanne, or Matisse. A primalist is the real-deal, an original, an iconoclast who cuts his own swath and sticks to his guns in the face of any and all obstacles no matter what.
April 4, 2014
I am in the ArtExpo NY show, in the SOLO section, booth S-812. It opens Friday, April 4th and runs through Sunday, the 6th. Hours are 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM Friday and Saturday, and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sunday. It used to be in the Javits Center, but outgrew that venue, and is now held at Pier 94, at 711 12th Avenue and 55th Street. There is parking on the roof if you come by car.
This is my first time in this huge Art Fair and Exhibition, the biggest in New England. Pretty exciting. This show comprises three parts, ArtExpo, which is mainly galleries and dealers; SOLO, which is mainly artists not attached to a gallery, and Decor, which is about interior design. If you plan to take in all three, you will need to come early and wear a comfortable pair of shoes, as the total show is HUGE. For a taste, go to their website: ArtExpo.com
Jan 16, 2014. Now Here’s The Really Big News:
A couple of days ago, on Tuesday, Jan 14, I was a guest on the Queen Latifah Show. It was a hit, and my phone and EM in-box have been exploding ever since. You can catch the segment if you go to YouTube and enter Ken Delmar Queen Latifah. Or, you can use this link: youtube.com/watch?v=BN_TITzS9FI.
I have a solo show coming up in Ridgefield, CT The opening is on January 23rd, Thursday, and the show runs till Feb 28. Here’s the press release:
Rockwell Art Galleries/Ridgefield Presents “Delmar Is On A Roll” by Ken Delmar
Sooo-z Mastropietro, Gallery Director
Rockwell Art Galleries of Ridgefield presents “Delmar Is On A Roll” featuring oil portraits on a common household item by contemporary artist Ken Delmar.
RIDGEFIELD, CT –December 18th, 2013 –RockwellArtGalleries of Ridgefield presents “Delmar Is On A Roll” featuring oil portraits on paper towels by contemporary artist Ken Delmar. Delmar, who recently attained high acclaim on the New York City gallery circuit, brings his famed paper towel palettes of personality to Ridgefield. The public is invited to an opening reception on Thursday January 23rd from 5:00-7:00PM. The show runs from January 23rd-February 28th. The event is free and open to the public.Rockwell Art and Framing of Ridgefield is located at 470 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877 Phone 203-894-8000.
Ken Delmar, the classically trained painter with a bevy of traditional works ranging from nautical themes to seascape scenes posed a popular artist’s question to himself –what’s next? With a unique endeavor in mind, he sought to utilize new mediums and delve into an unexplored theme. With a bounty of new ideas brewing, he paired this with a very accessible material to paint on, Bounty paper towels! Delmar wanted to demonstrate that vision can transcend all else. Each sheet provided a perfect backdrop for a single portrait and that’s the direction he took. Fictional faces, famous figures, and even social statements. He has been a popular draw at outdoor art festivals where he demonstrated his work live and recently showed a collection of works in a September solo show in Chelsea, Manhattan, at the George Billis Gallery.
Delmar, who studied painting and drawing at New York’s Art Student’s League, learned watercolor technique in college from Arthur KD Healy, and oil painting from Rosemary Beck, but his most influential teachers were his mother, Alice Cochran, a museum-caliber floralist, and his aunt, Ann Cochran, a professional artist. Delmar is a member of the Loft Artist’s Association.
Delmar’s recent subject matter is focused on faces; imagined faces, masks, cultural icons, portraits, and occasionally likenesses of stars and media figures. He also paints semi-abstract figures in imagined environments. These figures are, perhaps, dancing, fighting, flirting, or maybe attending a tribal meeting – you be the judge.
Delmar’s paintings in oil on paper towels are mounted with a conservation-grade adhesive on archival boards. Every dab of oil paint is mixed with a resin-gel that adds durability to the color, and to the paper. With the faces, the entire sheet of paper is routinely painted, including teeth and the whites of eyes, to prevent yellowing of any visible areas of paper over time. Works are then framed beneath UV-protected glass or Plexiglas
About Rockwell Art Galleries
Rockwell Art Ridgefield Gallery is open Monday- Friday 10-5:30pm/ Saturday 10-5:00.
Oct 28, 2013, Auburn, Alabama
I was flown down to Auburn, and taught four classes at the Dean Road Elementary School. I showed the kids how to paint a face, and the medium we painted on was paper towels. I had never taught kids before, and hadn’t been in a 1st or 2nd class since I was in one myself. I had seen “Kindergarten Cop” with Arnold Schwartzenegger, and figured that was approximately what I was in for. My experience, on the contrary, was completely different. The kids were delightful, cooperative, attentive. The adults were all charming, gracious and hospitable, as they usually are in the South. Here is the link to a local newspaper story of the event:
The Opening in Chelsea on Sept 5th was a smashing success!
The George Billis Gallery at 521 West 26th Street started to fill up at 6:00 PM, and stayed full with people and press until the gallery closed at 9:00 PM that evening. For me it was wall-to-wall interviews under hot lights. Fox 5 News with Jill Nicolini taped a segment that aired later that night at 10:24.
Reuters TV was there, both before and during the opening. Click the link below to see the piece they sent out across the country and around the world. CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood was there, taped everything and interviewed me.
There were photographers and/or reporters from the NY Times, Daily News, NY Post, Stamford Advocate & Greenwich Time. More interviews are slated for this coming Monday and Tuesday, and my publicist has warned me that there are more in the pipeline.
It was utterly amazing. Friends from Connecticut showed up. The Commodore of my yacht club in Stamford and his wife were there. My brother, John, who I haven’t seen in 20 years, was there. The brother of the young woman who used to baby-sit my daughter forty years ago showed up. A classmate from Trinity School, from which I graduated in 1959, attended. A lady I sold a house to in New Canaan came. Thank you all for your support!
The show at the George Billis Gallery closed on Saturday, September 14th. If you missed it, here are links to several of the video and print features that the show generated:
Original story that started it all appeared in the Stamford Advocate on May 12, 2013
Fox 5 News Link to Sept 5th opening night in a Chelsea gallery video interview with Jill Nicolini
Even more important is a Reuters TV segment, which has been picked up by scores of stations across the country and around the world. Here’s a link to one that was broadcast in the UK:
The Daily News:
Link to Stamford Times/Hour article of 091313:
NY Post of 9-13-13, page 36. I don’t know how to create a link to this. Just google it.
Blouin Art Info
Front page article in Stamford Advocate:
To see a 3-min video produced by my sponsor, go to:
Earlier News from May, 2013
On May 6, 2013, two women appeared at my front door here in Stamford CT. They were from the Stamford Advocate, our local newspaper, and they wanted to interview me. They came into my home gallery and saw some twenty five new works of art displayed on every wall, and leaned in every possible space. They were primarily foot-square faces painted on paper towels in three styles; human faces, almost-human faces, and masks. These foot-square pieces are mounted on board, and then framed under Plexiglas.
Now in the old days the newspaper article would have been seen by a few dozen neighbors and friends, who would maybe mention it to me in the local supermarket, and that would be it. But today, with the Internet disseminating news instantly throughout the world, the article also went out digitally into cyberspace. It was picked up by an entity who is in a position to make things happen in the NYC art world. Let’s call her a patroness and leave it at that, because the only thing required of me is to keep her anonymous. No problem.
A Show in the Big Apple!
A day later, I was contacted by a major PR firm in Manhattan. Phone calls and emails were exchanged and meetings set up. A team of publicists and creatives will work to propel my career to the higher atmosphere in short order. I have been commissioned to paint more than a dozen works. And I met with the owner of a prestigious gallery in Chelsea and…voila…a solo show!
George Billis Gallery
521 West 26th Street, NYC
Thursday, 5th of September
6:00 – 9:00 PM.
Between now and then, and on that day, I will be interviewed by more than a dozen media entities, starting with Reuters TV. A video has been shot of me; a day-in-the-life of Ken Delmar, fine artist. This is in editing and will first appear on YouTube. And yesterday, August 23rd, “Sunday Morning” hosted by Charles Osgood, called, and is working with me right now to set up a taping session in my studio for their highly respected national network TV show.
Consider that on May 12th I was trying to figure out what I had to do to get a show in Stamford, Greenwich or Darien, Connecticut, towns that in the scale of rankings of importance in the global art world are small potatoes. Manhattan, on the other hand, is the epicenter of the global art world today. And Chelsea is the center of the epicenter. It’s like Montmartre in 1870. Now you can understand my shock at this remarkable turn of events, and my use of the words “amazing, stunning, and very, very rare.”
I’ll try my best to keep this “News” column up to date, in spite of what looks like it’s going to be a very full dance card over the next few weeks.