Jonathan Kelly British , b. 1988

Kelly draws on the earliest art, the Palaeolithic, as it looks beyond today’s complexities to more universal concerns of life, death and sexuality. In his most recent ‘Easy Pray’ series Kelly paints totemic idols as headless figures in contorted yogic positions, they appear to emerge from within the canvas, as if these dormant deities have been illuminated by saturated colour. Stuck-on elements, including arrowheads and poker-chips, disrupt the image but also align with the figure’s geometry. Like offerings, adornments are placed in a ritual manner, as in reverence or an act of divination. The iteration of the motifs speak of the ritual and habitual nature of belief, like a mantra the paintings are between meaning and meaninglessness. Kelly posits how painting functions as a self- deceptive activity that distracts from and suppresses existential doubt. By paralleling art-production with religious belief – both essentially irrational acts – he questions their implicit values.