Josh Keyes: Collision At David B Smith Gallery

This stark series of acrylic paintings is entitled Collision. It features animals in various stages of the death and life cycle are set upon a square of urban space, feeling like small-scale museum installations. This show opens in Denver tonight, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, at the David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, Colorado. Here’s what Josh Keyes has to say about it:

The inspiration for these paintings came from an old alchemists engraving from around the 16th century. The engraving consists of multiple images that illustrate a personified narrative of the chemical transformation of metals moving from one solid to disintegration and reconfiguration. The iconographic device used in this engraving is that of the archetypal king whose power shifts between tyranny and freedom.

This series of images of this alchemical engraving enchanted my imagination, and has become a grounding source for this current body of work and the work that is to come. A story evolved for me surrounding the theme of death and rebirth at the core is a meditation on transformation. These ideas had to find expression through my existing lexicon of myth and imagery, so I began to invent and develop a cast of characters and situations that for me served to interpret the essence of my source material, the “old wine new bottle” approach.

With all of my imagery they stand as metaphors, not event action or event is to be taken literally. The depiction of death or dying in this series could be seen as a relationship, the ending of a job, an inner life change. The hyenas could be that group of bullies you may have encountered after school, or the negative critical voice we all have at times in our head that keep us from living out our dreams. One could think of this work as an expression of the individual personality. We all have within us the potential for love and compassion as well as aggressive tendencies, we as a culture are capable of great communal achievement as well as the destructive and tyrannical manifestations that we have sadly seen throughout history. It is not to say that one is good and one bad, it is to acknowledge that these energies and drives are hardwired into our psychology and physiology.

– Josh Keyes

Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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