Kellyann Burns: Combing Conversations

May 23 – August 25, 2024


Kellyann Burns is an American abstract artist who focuses on process and color. Her hard-edged, geometric abstract paintings are created by stacking flat layers of color, one on top of the other. Pigment is pulled or scraped across the panel with a metal spatula, leaving masked and dripped pigment as evidence of her process. The edges of her work reveal the history of accumulated layers of color and the paint buildup is left exposed. Burns considers sandpaper to be as important a tool in her process as brushes and pallet knives, as every layer of paint is sanded. This allows previous layers of pigment to be exposed within fields of solid color through varying intensity and pressure. Additionally, sanding allows a smooth, lustrous, and dense surface to be created. Some areas become matte and translucent while others, in contrast, are glossy and opaque. Because of these qualities, Burns is able to manipulate subtle changes of light both within, and reflecting from, her richly-colored oil paintings.

Her work encourages an intimate experience with the viewer, evoking a personal recollection of once inhabited structures, suggesting elements of architecture and forms that expose the beauty of erosion – how attrition and regeneration in the natural and man-made world evokes both the reductive and the expressive. 

According to Burns, “From a young age, I found solace and joy in expressing myself through art. I was drawn to the freedom and boundlessness of abstract art, where I could unleash my imagination and explore the depths of my emotions without constraint. Over the years, I’ve honed my craft through experimentation. Learning from other artists, and pushing the boundaries of traditional artistic norms.”

My work is created intuitively and embraces geometric formalism. My visual vocabulary is drawn from the observation of the world around me – I see forms, colors and shapes in the natural and built world and I translate what I observe into my own unique visual voice. I strive to evoke a sense of playfulness, curiosity, and introspection in those who view my art.

Burns’ work is held in many public and private collections and has exhibited nationally since the mid-1990s as well as in London and Seoul. She lives and works in Los Angeles, CA

Support provided by Martin Brown, Luise Beringer, the City of Grand Forks, and by a grant from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Top: 6:19 pm 7/07/23, 2023, oil on dibond

Bottom: 6:07 am 10/18/11, 2011, oil on dibond