Skip to content

Kahlil Robert Irving


Opening: Friday, September 8, 6–8pm

September 8 – October 29, 2017

A photograph of the main area of the gallery: at right is a square raw platform with 4 ceramic sculptures upon it. On the temporary gallery wall is a wallpaper visualizing a chainlink pattern in black and white. There are also 2 raw wood pedestals with one sculpture on them, respectively.
A ceramic sculpture on a raw wood pedestal, with the chainlink fence wallpaper in the background.
A photograph of a single raw wood pedestal with a ceramic sculpture upon it. In the background we see a raw wood platform with 4 ceramic sculptures upon it. At left, we see the chainlink fence wallpaper on the gallery's temporary wall.
A close up photograph of the ceramic sculpture on a raw wood pedestal at the front of the gallery. A portion of the square raw wood table is visible with 2 sculptures upon it. At left is the chainlink vinyl wallpaper.
A photograph providing the view of the gallery from the front window. The square raw table with 4 ceramic sculptures is in the foreground, a single pedestal with a ceramic sculpture is in the midground, and in the background we see a long raw platform with 4 visible sculptures upon it. We also see the chainlink wallpaper on the temporary wall jutting from the right of the photo.
A photograph of a raw wood platform holding 4 ceramic sculptures. At left we see an excerpt of the gallery's temporary wall, upon which is mounted a chainlink fence wallpaper.
A photograph that partially captures the square raw wood table, and we see 2 ceramic sculptures, blurring together somewhat. There is a single raw wood pedestal in the middle ground, and a long table at left, along the wall. On the long table are 5 sculptures. At right in the middle ground we see the chainlink fence wallpaper on the gallery's temporary wall.
A photograph of the chainlink fence wallpaper at right, jutting to the left from the right. There is a raw wood pedestal with a single ceramic sculpture, and a long raw wood platform with a single row of 5 ceramic sculptures.
A photograph of the long raw wood platform holding 5 ceramic sculptures, and 2 sculptures on raw wood pedestals (1 each respectively), one in the foreground, one in the background. The chainlink fence wallpaper is visible in the middle ground.
A photograph of the long platform holding 5 sculptures. We see a small excerpt of the chainlink fence pattern on the temporary wall, jutting from right to left.
A photograph of the long raw wooden table with 5 ceramic sculptures upon it. The window of the gallery is visible at left.
A photograph of a close-up of the ceramic sculpture upon a raw wood pedestal in the back of the gallery. In the middle and background is the long raw wooden table that contains 5 ceramic sculptures.
A photograph of one ceramic sculpture upon a raw wood pedestal, situated near the back of the gallery.
A photograph of a single ceramic sculpture upon a raw wood pedestal, and a framed collograph print.
A photograph of Irving's collograph print, framed in black and hung upon the wall.
A photograph of a small section of the long raw wood table and one ceramic sculpture upon it, a raw wood pedestal with a single ceramic work upon it, and a collograph print on the far wall framed in black.
A photograph of a small ceramic sculpture hung high on the backside of the gallery's temporary wall. In the background is a portion of the raw wood square platform with several sculptures upon it, and the gallery's front window.
A square print that is mostly black with specs of white throughout. There is a large red Christmas bow attached to the paper at left, a 2 of spades playing card, and a piece of hair also attached and visible. There are white shapes that resemble a crushed soda can and styrofoam clamshell.
A mixed ceramic sculpture with a round base that moves to an apex. At the peak of the small sculpture is a silver volcanic mass, beneath which is a ceramic piece that resembles a crumbles bedsheet. Near and beneath the white mass is stone with decals (lottery numbers, cigarette logos) applied in red.
A sculpture of stacked stoneware. Several areas have a shiny silver luster. At the top is a folded piece of white ceramic that resembles a melted plastic bottle. There is a mixture of textures (gravel, sand, smooth stone) that resemble the environment despite being made entirely from clay.
A sculpture of mixed stoneware. There are several serpentine tube shapes, silver lusters and seemingly molten elements that appear to drip over. At left is a shape that resembles a paint can with the works "I AM MIKE" written upon it.
A close up detail image of a mixed stoneware sculpture. We see an assortment of textures: gold luster, blue enamel, red enamel, blue luster, cracked pieces of porcelain that appear to congeal together, sandy masses, and bubbles upon the surface. It is a jagged construction.
A mixed stoneware sculpture with varied textures and colors (beige, gold, silver, blue, red). There are two half-circles of porcelain that appear like enclosures for masses of clay; they are covered in decals made and applied by the artist.
A detail of a mixed stoneware sculpture that introduces us to decals on the backside of a circular shape. There is a chainlink fence overlay, and we see newspaper press clips collaged together. There are also varies textures of clay in black, beige, silver, and white.
A mixed stoneware sculpture that includes highly textured surfaces in orange and beige. At left is a black square of stone in glossy enamel, and above it a trompe l'oeil styrofoam clamshell (made in porcelain) with decals applied on the surface.
A close-up of a mixed stoneware sculpture. There is a cherub found on the bottom-left of the sculpture surrounded by red roses, and otherwise mixed colors of lusters and enamels (green, black, silver, gold).
A mixed stoneware sculpture with a central arc made of stone. There textured surfaces surrounding it are painted with silver luster. Above those elements are varied jagged surfaces that host decals applied by the artist of newspaper articles and a chainlink fence print.
A mixed stoneware sculpture with 4 Sprite bottles made of porcelain (painted yellow and green), with varied stoneware and texture layers on top of them. The primary colors are grey, beige, and white.
A mixed sculpture structure that includes clay that appears natural (brick-colored, black, grey, white). Many segments are cracked with colors (blue, orange) sneaking out from within them. There are two silver sections, and one decal of a 10x lotto ticket.
A mixed stoneware sculpture with a large black circular mass at center-right. Above the mass is a jagged ring of porcelain holding decals (newspaper headlines reassembled), a porcelain clamshell, and cracked shards of porcelain layered to the left of the black mass. At top-right is a folded piece of porcelain that hosts traditional blue Meissen flowers.
A close up detail of a mixed stoneware sculpture. There is a jagged ring of porcelain with personal decals applied by the artist of newspaper headline. There is a trompe l'oeil styrofoam clamshell made of porcelain, and varied other textures of clay. There are green, silver, and gray lusters.
A mixed stoneware sculpture with a foundation of predominantly blue, be it luster painted over white clay or traditional blue Meissen flowers applied to white stone. There is a section near the top of silver luster, and a dense landscape of glazed and unglazed stone.
A mixed stoneware sculpture that includes many forms produced by the artist. There is a set of small brown coils at left of the sculpture. In the bottom half, there are cracked shards of stone that are stacked and painted with varied lusters and enamels. There is a central orange piece of stone, which is topped by a piece painted with silver luster. At top-right there is a spherical shape that is covered with newspaper headlines.
A close up detail of a mixed stoneware sculpture. There is a circular surface that has custom decals of newspaper headlines adhered to the white surface. At left there is an orange, textured piece of clay. At the top is a silver mass of stone.
A highly textured, coiled, snake-like piece of beige ceramic hung off the wall on a hook. There is an orange hue to the bottom of the shape itself.

Press Release

Callicoon Fine Arts is proud to present a solo exhibition of new work by Kahlil Robert Irving, on view from September 8 to October 29. Titled Street:Chains:Cocktails, the exhibition will be comprised of new sculpture, works on paper, and wallpaper. Irving has produced ceramic assemblages out of fired elements that include porcelain, stoneware, gravel, and glass. The highly visceral compositions include a range of imagery, some of which are typical to porcelain vessels like the florals of Messien pottery while other images are taken from news reports surrounding the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of the city of St. Louis. The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication with an essay by Hannah Klemm, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum. 

Irving’s work derives from decorative arts traditions, post-war industrial design, and contemporary urban culture. Through an amalgamation of popular and autobiographical symbols, Irving’s mastery of material and image produces a reflection on the experience of living in America’s cities today. In the gallery, groups of ceramics include signifiers of quotidian objects. Within Irving’s sculptures are embedded shards of porcelain as if a teacup had been thrown agains the floor, then incorporated into cement gravel. Paint cans, soda bottles, and crumpled styrofoam fast-food containers, are rendered in slip cast porcelain, densely collaged with image decals of fried chicken, cigarette butts, lotto cards, and dripped with black, blue, silver and gold luster. 

Three monoprints serve as an important extension of Irving’s sculpture production. In the series titled “Street View,” Irving embosses and collages detritus and gravel with ink into sheets of paper to make unique constellations of collected litter. Pressed objects and printed textures evoke the ordinary city street either suburban or of the inner-city, transitions between environments, and the similarities found from one space to the next. A digital chain-link fence printed on vinyl further emphasizes a partition wall. Like the decal images that blanket the surface of Kahlil’s ceramics, the all-over pattern, repeats in a series of interlocking black on white loops. This decorative architecture reads as barrier under the guise of making calm for safety, while simultaneously suggesting harmful situations. 

Phrases like “I am Mike” and “No Charges for Wilson,” pulled from press coverage following the killing of Michael Brown, cover areas of the porcelain surface and encapsulate the critical social and political response both nationally and locally near the artist’s home town. In her essay Klemm describes the effect of Irving’s layered use of material and text as “repeated poetics paired with a systematic accumulation of recognizable forms” asserting that the works “astutely question the relationship of abstraction to language, politics and identity.” The merging of words and form repeats in the artist’s choice of titles. Careful pairings like Street Section – After Death (Layered Mass never forgotten) and Mass: Meissen TO – GO (KILLING DAILY; DAILY KILLING), again, pull from the headlines, to combine with words that both describe the material as well as social ritual in the face of collective mourning. The titles read in blue, red, and black, and styled in bold, italicized, underlined, suggest memorialization. In the last lines of her essay Klemm states, “The works in this exhibition are tied up with historical and contemporary practices of how we live together in the world, how we understand what is left behind—the detritus of global capitalism and its impact on local communities and on everyday life. The end product proffers a lyrical and elegiac sense of both belonging and loss.”

Kahlil Robert Irving (born 1992, San Diego, CA) is currently living and working in Saint Louis. He attended the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art, Washington University in St. Louis (MFA 2017) and the Kansas City Art Institute (BFA Art History and Ceramics 2015). Upcoming exhibitions include, Ephemora at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas; and the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles (both 2017). Additional exhibitions include, FRAME BY FRAME at Callicoon Fine Arts, New York; Desirable Objects | Cabinet at David B. Smith Gallery, Saint Louis; Almost Now, Just Then… at Projects+ Gallery, Saint Louis (all 2017); and Undocumented at Bruno David Gallery, Saint Louis in 2016. In 2016 Irving was a resident artist at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica in Venice, Italy. In the fall of 2017 he will be in residence at the University of Pecs, in Pecs, Hungary. Kahlil Robert Irving has work in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Overland Park, Kansas; the Riga Porcelain Museum, in Riga, Latvia; The Ken Ferguson Teaching Collection at the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri; the Foundation for Contemporary Ceramic Art in Kecskemet, Hungary; and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, in Jerusalem, Israel.

For additional information contact Photi Giovanis at, or call 212-219-0326.

Callicoon Fine Arts is located at 49 Delancey Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 10:30am to 6:30pm. The nearest subway stops are the B and D trains at Grand Street and the F, J, M and Z trains at Delancey-Essex Street.

Back To Top