Adrian Kellard: The Learned Art of Compassion A show of rare impact, this concise but powerful retrospective of the late Adrian Kellard's work reveals an artist of masterful formal skill and emotional immediacy. Held on the 20th anniversary of Kellard's passing and the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the HIV virus, the exhibit collects a number of signature large-scale painted and carved wood assemblages that celebrate Kellard's identity as a gay man and devout Catholic. Originally trained as a printmaker — as an undergraduate his instructor was the woodcut artist Antonio Frasconi — he uses printmaking tools to carve pinewood blocks that depict images of Christian subjects, often derived from canonical art-historical sources including Michelangelo and Giotto. Kellard's style is a combination of German expressionist and midcentury illustrative: Jagged but meticulous black lines etch the outlines of his figures and patterns, while bright, comic-book primaries fill them in. Though his career was brief — he died from AIDS in 1991 at age 32 — Kellard forged an indelible style; this survey conveys a sense of a mature, self-assured artist with a lifetime's worth of range. As he bore witness to the passing of many of his peers during the AIDS epidemic and illness ravaged his own last years, his work took on fresh urgency, resulting in exuberant shrines to those who'd passed or were soon to. The effect is profound and generous: Rising above the specifics of Kellard's narrative and identity, the works speak boldly of something at once grievous, celebratory and fundamentally human. Through December 18 at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, 3700 West Pine Boulevard (on the Saint Louis University campus); 314-977-7170 or http://mocra.slu.edu. Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.Click here for more arts coverage
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