VOL. 07.18.2017 | FEATURE KEN TATE

July 18, 2017

Image of VOL. 07.18.2017 | FEATURE KEN TATE


Louisiana non-figurative artist Ken Tate’s art explores the more emotional aspects of the human condition.

The impetus for the current work comes from the writings of Beats such as Kerouac and Ginsberg, the writing and short stories of Jorge Borges, the works of abstract expressionists Robert Motherwell, William de Kooning, John Chamberlain and David Smith, as well as the works of Robert Rauschenberg. Another influence is the art of cinema, especially in the framing and editing of film. But when Ken works in the studio, the art often has a “mind of its own”.

Ken’s work can be seen at the following galleries below. His paintings have been featured in magazines such as “House Beautiful”, “Traditional Home”, “Coastal Living” and “New Orleans House & Home”. His work is in private collections in New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, Tulsa, Nashville, Houston and Jackson, MS to name a few.


I like the nature of paint and the way it looks and “feels” when it’s squeegeed, smeared, fingerpainted, brushed, squirted, thrown, splashed, dripped, etc. I also like it when different colors of differing opacities are put next to each other in unnatural arrangements. Sometimes I cut out pieces of paintings and cut them into other paintings to make something wholly different (Knock Loud, the World is Deaf). These paintings are self-conscious, but the paintings that are not cut-up have an almost childlike appearance (Joywreck and Beautifulmess) of abandonment. Some of the impetus for the work comes from the writings of the Beat poets and writers (Burroughs for the “cut-ups” and Kerouac for the child-like paintings). I’ve also been influenced by the abstract expressionists, jazz musicians, the automatic writings of Masson and early Henry Miller (“Black Spring”), and Outsider artists.

I’m also drawn to visual stimuli usually of a Jungian nature—archetypal but with a modern typology. However, conveying raw primal experience using acrylic paint on two dimensional surfaces interests me more than using 21st century methodologies like light or video. When I’m painting, I feel much like early man drawing on the walls of a cave desperately trying to say something unsayable using only shapes and color. However, my recent discovery of painting on sheets of polypropylene puts me squarely in the 21st century, but the message is still the same—even though the body is archaic and grounded to the earth, the spirit wants to break free—the spirit wants the intangible—the Wordless Void.