Wesley Kimler is one of the best painters of our time. Fluent in myriad styles as broad as abstraction to realism, he is capable of convincingly putting onto canvas any image or form he wants - and he juxtaposes many.
He is the most vociferous voice against conformity in Chicago's too tame acceptance of global and national trends. His advocacy for originality and allegiance to a high moral and ethical code drives his art. And his outspoken candor on his own website, Sharkforum and on blogs to which he contributes like Bad At Sports, reflects that rigorous attitude.
He is a painter's painter and eschews much of what's be going on in the art centers for the past decade or two. He stringently insists that his hand is the only one to make marks on his paintings. He categorically resists the facility of projecting images onto his canvases or correspondingly tracing them. He does not work to kowtow to or appease his audience; he works to overwhelm them with the content, stature and the power of his imagery. His paintings are often huge - way beyond human scale - sometimes as large as 10 by 30 feet. They are heroic statements about brave, or obdurate, inspirational human endeavor addressing issues of life, death and the pursuit of excellence.
Kimler works simultaneously on drawings and paintings and his studio floor is most often layered in strewn drawings. The drawings are oversized - 5 by 6 feet is a common general size - covered in footprints and collaged dark, solid black shapes wherein he discovers form and content as he works. They feel less preconceived or methodical than his paintings. And for the past few years, likely perturbed by the inconsistencies and inefficiencies of the Iraq conflict, his drawings' imagery harkens to the beat and triumphs of the so-called greatest generation and their war conquests.
Outspoken and unafraid, perhaps because he's burned so many bridges it doesn't matter any more, Kimler is one of the few voices of reason, ethics and cultural aesthetics in Chicago and beyond. To some extent he doesn't have a gallery because he is thought to be difficult to work with, but more so he has a problem with a system that dictates an artist relinquish 50% or more of what a paintings is worth in exchange for an insufficient return.
Kimler takes control of his art, his output and his career. He doesn't suffer fools, foolish behavior or the foolish 'hanky-panky' that pervades the artworld - sometimes to his own detriment. For him, quality is more important than convenience, integrity more significant than contrivance, and honest technique a prerequisite for being considered an artist at all.
Kimler is a lightening rod that divides those who know him. Many do not appreciate his art because they do not appreciate the individual - often because they are personally challenged by the foil he is to their thinking, working habits, or endeavors.
It is a rare bird who embraces technology, reads prolifically, knows precisely what is going on in remote portions of the globe and maintains a strict allegiance to what has become old school - a painter who paints - one who insists that good technique is mandatory and performed by the person who puts their name to the work. Kimler is that person.