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Brad Kahlhamer works with a range of media from sculpture and painting to performance and music to explore what he refers to as the “third place” — a meeting point of two opposing personal histories. Some influences include Abstract Expressionism, street art, nineteenth-century Plains ledger drawings, and pop art. His work, described by New York Times critic Holland Cotter as charged with “psychic irritation and urgency”, often features motifs of Native American visual culture such as totem poles, teepees, and hawks, while weaving in elements of popular culture that interrogate his own complex, multilayered identity.
In an interview in Flash Art, Kahlhamer explained the third place: “…I see multiculturalism as involvement with a specific community, while abstract painting maps the self. Abstraction is a form of cartooning with its own signatures and readings, but in the end, is perceived as a person. I’m profiling myself, but I am interested in the history of those caricatures as well. Basically, I’m making landscapes that I can live in, within that history.”
Brad Kahlhamer was born in Tucson, Arizona and currently lives in New York City. His work has been exhibited extensively in the United States as well as internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Brad Kahlhamer: A Nation of One, at the Plains Art Museum, Fargo, North Dakota (2019-2020), and Super Catcher, Vast Array, at Open Spaces, Kansas City, Missouri (2018). Recent group exhibitions include Other Walks, Other Lines, at the San Jose Museum of Art, California (2018-2019), One Must Know the Animals at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Wisconsin (2012), and The Old, Weird America: Folk Themes in Contemporary Art, at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (2008). He was an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California (2016), and was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Award (2006) and the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award in Painting (2001).
Kahlhamer is included in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Seattle Art Museum, Washington; the Denver Art Museum, Colorado; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, North Carolina; the Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin; the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas and the Hood Museum of Art, New Hampshire. Kahlhamer was included in Musée du Quai Branly’s exhibition The Art and Life of the Plains Indians, which opened in 2014 and traveled to the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Missouri as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 2015.
Kahlhamer was commissioned by the Smithsonian to write a score for a silent film called Red Skins (2002). Active in the New York music scene as well as the art world, he has designed album covers and performs music, an important influence on his visual practice.
Brad Kahlhamer's solo exhibitions with Jack Shainman Gallery include Fistful of Feathers (2013) and Fort Gotham Girls + Boys Club (2014), and is included in Jack Shainman Gallery's group exhibition The Past Is Present: Brad Kahlhamer, Turiya Magadlela, and Hank Willis Thomas (2017).