Josh Keyes

Gallery II
Solo Exhibition

October 22, 2011 through November 19, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (September 20, 2011) — Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to present Migration, new works by Portland-based artist Josh Keyes, in what will be his second solo exhibition at the gallery. Migration features a series of paintings on panel, drawings on paper, and a ten-foot canvas entitled Stampede, the artist’s largest painting to date.

On the subject of his show title, in the artist’s words, “Migration and displacement were ideas that continued to surface in my mind while I was painting these images. I was thinking about the effects of climate change and the way some ecosystems that thrive in a specific range of temperatures—like polar or tropical climates—are experiencing a shrinking of their boundaries. Ecosystems that were separate are now slowly merging and overlapping one another, causing disruptions in the food web and increased competition for food and space among species. Some become displaced and are forced to migrate, in order to survive.”

Keyes’ imagery in this exhibition pushes the potential consequences of ecosystem clashing to a climax that wavers on the surreal. A bright orange tiger rests contently on top of a graffiti covered dumpster, staring intensely at a pack of wolves, scavenging whitetail deer scraps from the tiger’s morning hunt. Below the smooth floodwater surface, glides a great white shark. A pair of giant pandas, marooned on a submerged jeep, watch with curiosity as the shark’s fin circles by. Deer, elk, wolves and other animals form a stampeding herd, charging through a city street, leaving upturned cars and ruptured pavement in their frenzied wake.

Keyes’ work often depicts various species of wildlife isolated within settings that foreshadow a theoretically threatening dystopian fate. His signature fragmented landscape, surrounded by a sea of empty white space, represents the universal unknown as well as the disconnect between contemporary society and the natural world. Through his work, Keyes explores timely ecological themes that convey his deep concern for the environmental crisis our planet faces. His imaginative interpretations of the long-term effects of global warming include aspects of climate change, extinction, the decline of natural resources and threat of rising sea levels. All of these issues are integrated, and woven throughout the allegorical fabric of the work in a resounding visual study on causality.


Born in 1969 in Tacoma, Washington, Josh Keyes currently lives and works in Portland, Oregon. Keyes graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and later received his MFA in painting from Yale University. His work has been exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States. Over the past several years, Keyes has developed an iconic and complex personal vocabulary of imagery, creating a unique juxtaposition between the natural world and man-made landscapes. His work conveys an anxious vision of what our world might become in the future as a result of current global warming predictions. The objects and animals incorporated into Keyes’ dissected environments each hold individual iconographic significance. The artist weaves his personal mythology through painting fractured and isolated landscapes—either underwater or overgrown with vegetation. The imagery functions as a way for Keyes to express his personal experience while commenting on and sharing his interpretation of world events.

Josh Keyes

Jonathan LeVine Gallery | 529 West 20th Street and 557C West 23rd Street | New York, NY 10011 | Open Tuesday through Saturday, 11am to 6pm | 212-243-3822