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- Vision without Commitment is Hallucination












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Eric Kelly III announces the stolen Legacy exhibit is on the drawing board and as an abstract expressionist artist will examine the attack on the human race.  The complex inner workings of art and science in today’s society.   This show promises to be an exhibit like none he has done before in North America. 



Kelly in an upcoming fundraiser has agreed to paint several painting to raise funds for school improvement and scholarships for St. Sya Academy in Durham North Carolina. “It is an honor to be asked and i truly hope the community will pitch in to help me as I work to help the St. Sya Academy to continue its 20 year legacy in educating students one seed at a time"

Eric Kelly III signs on for The St. SYA Academy Fund rasing project!




Eric Kelly III

Abstract Expressionist:
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Kelly to showcase new work in Febuary


The new show that has expanded for more than 30 pieces is called Faces that speak life is the latest in a show that showcase his abstract expressionist work.  Each painting evolves as I use color and lines to express his in feelings.   The color is feeling and the black lines define the emotions..


The Carolina Times Newspsaaper Editor Kenneth Edmonds writes review new book!


Award-winning contemporary artist Eric Kelly III creates fine art pieces, which seamlessly merge fugitive and abstract aesthetics and techniques with modern flavor. His intensely and sometimes detailed images achieve an astonishing method of light and bold lines, as practiced by the great masters while incorporating emotional scenes and color, which challenge cultural norms. Exhausted by a society in which black men often feel vulnerable, threatened, or powerless, Kelly recasts portraits as powerful creatures, freed from the oppressive gaze and placed within emotional colors where they can revel in their own beauty and potential. Blending abstraction, expressive with figuration, the natural world with the urban idea through bold lines and colors that connect portraits with a transformative reality, Kelly’s breathtakingly beautiful artworks achieve something truly unique, both in terms of aesthetics and concept.

Like many artists, I discuss personal experiences through color that I feel when I encounter new emotions, faces, and themes. At the same time, I strive to escape the self, an urge that partially stems from crossing borders of realism and abstract painting. Living through cultural starvation in my childhood has made me restless and hungry for honest creativity with an almost childlike curiosity. In that sense, everything I paint is strictly personal.  Sex, hate, love, anger, abuse, violence, trauma… I may present an unusual perspective on these topics stemming from the colors I use, but only as to give a unique point of view. The work needs to keep changing, relive itself, and challenge its own conformity.

There is a point in every artist’s career when one is tempted to choose a tested and proven path. I am constantly trying to resist this temptation by containing the “paths” in a series where I can explore a motif or a theme without succumbing to the comforts of one visual style. The artists that I look up to for inspiration have one thing in common – constant renewal.   Nontraditional elements of color are very central to my body of work. It is not so much a need to keep the style “nontraditional”, but rather the way I speak. I grew up in a capitalist country where I was told that I would be a starving artist.   Yet the thought of the possibility of being a starving artist, I have made art for decades, not for the money but for the joy of it.

 I paint about emotional responses to everyday landscapes as it relates to the human structure called the face and praised emotions while accepting nature and expressing creativity and the human spirit with it.  At the same time, my summers were spent in New York and Durham with my aunt and grandmother who had a very distinctive power on my experiences as they relate to people.  These two realities are inseparable in my mind. The painting technique I mostly use resembles the Ophism and abstract method of colors.

 I paint between layers of ideas and colors as the great masters before I did.  I start with pencils, pastels, and then an abstract textured background.  After that, I paint a layer with acrylics and finish with a couple of thicker layers using a combination of bold lines and colors.  Asked when he decided to focus on portraits that convey social and political messages, Kelly responded, “It gradually evolved as I was making art that was meaningful to me.

Once I realized the tremendous power that images can have to make people comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sad, settled or unsettled, I knew I had a voice. I decided to use my voice to encourage people to see, think, and feel – something not always valued in our culture. Awareness replaces ignorance and opens up the possibility of change. If you cannot ignore it, then you may feel compelled to change it. I do not recall any one thing prompting that decision. Just a strong need to communicate and share ideas and emotions.

In addition, where does his seemingly endless stream of ideas of portraits come from? “I believe that most of my ideas come through me, not from me. Sometimes, ideas simply pop into my head seemingly from nowhere. Other times, some political or social situations will appear in my conversations, in the news, in a movie or in many other ways — repeatedly, beckoning me to paint them”.

Eric is a searcher and lover of work well done, he ends one phase without apprehension to enter another, and in all those phases, we find him once more. The work of this North American artist is made up of different stages, all of them characterized by an intense desire for an ideal composition, by means of exquisite technique. 

An indisputable value of his art is its unusual character; we cannot typecast it in any artistic school nor in any fashion.  However, we unavoidably discover the artist is an expressive and abstract visionary.  In his paintings, he looks at people, emotions, color, life, and lines without causing a wince, like his work, although dramatic, possesses an original combination of power and elegance. Kelly is a natural instigator, using color to engage, to confuse, to motivate, Kelly is an artist of our time who shows us his personal, up-to-date dialog without forgetting the lessons of old masters.

 The way that I appreciate Kelly’s abstract expression paintings makes me pause, observe, and reflect on how his art is evolving in our present time. He is an artist who was born in Washington DC.  In 1982, he opened a new museum, started to study his style, his art-making, and discovered his voice as an abstract expressive artist.  In 1998, the artist began a new stage as a curator at the Eric Kelly III Museum and today he resides in Durham, a modern city in North Carolina.

 His extensive collection of paintings filled with class and elegance reference his masterful technique and artistic method, making the artist evolve personally and professionally. Each of us can appreciate the work in a close way, where we can feel and connect on a personal level, thus reaching a universal message that is life and color.

Life, in Kelly’s paintings, flows partially out of color, emotion, and something that we hardly feel today, the present moment. Paintings that create a climate of softness, with the artist “Being the generator of his own history”.

 His imaginative paintings reflect a relationship with his memories that emanate a feeling of how we would like to merge our present, so common and ordinary yet so powerfully human.

 The precision of his technique that makes him an inventor of his own style also makes him an extraordinary artist. The perception of his unique paintings leaves the viewer dazzled by such detail of the process. We can all appreciate such impeccable works of art that grow more and more in-depth if we do not stop obstructing our gaze upon them.

 Thus, the perception of his unique paintings points to a new horizon of tomorrow, with Kelly announcing his own moments as the groundbreaking artist of today!

Jackie Shelton Green North Carolina

Piedmont Laureate writes the introduction for Eric Kelly III

New Book, Human Landscapes 


•Eric Kelly has graciously merged his public and personal worlds in his memoir, Human Landscapes.” Eric has successfully blended portrait imagery with semi-abstract backgrounds seamlessly and beautifully very much akin to the spirit of how he shows up in the world.


•In his day to day interactions, he also balances the composition of the artist and social entrepreneur very much the same way that he positions faces, imagery, color, and flow in harmony. He executes consistency and always a freshness that is stark, new, and undeniably signature Eric Kelly. 


•There is an African proverb, “where you stand in your youth will determine where you sit as an elder.” Growing up under the tutelage of strong, independent, change-making elders embroidered the similarity of this proverbial on his young psyche.


•Not only did Eric Kelly as a youngster understand what was required of him as a responsible young Black man growing up in a harsh and bitter inequitable society but he understood his elder’s teachings of where he needed to be and how he must stand up in his power. I met Eric Kelley in another dimension of his creative artistry and development where he was executing that commitment to the integrity that was embedded in him by his grandparents.


•Eric saw the need to work with financially disadvantaged youth at a time when his sales and marketing profession was elevated and soaring. He understood the need to make a difference and pay it forward by sharing and counseling youth that resonated with growing up in the same neighborhood.


•The correlation between Eric Kelly’s commitment to creativity and social change is evident in the narratives and truth-telling that happen between his brush strokes and the canvas. That inspiration not only brightens a living space or a gallery but his boldness in technique and developing his own style is the personal agency, energy, and conversation that he delivers over and over to any public audience that he is engaged with.


•This lovely book is a museum itself. The reader is witness to a stellar diversity of paintings that allow us to discover the multi-dimensional facets, the chaos, and the divinity that create one landscape after another.


•This publication, like the brilliant paintings shared by the artist, is a collector’s item. This book is an invitation into a dialogue that one rarely has the opportunity to exchange with a community-based artist whose work is organic geometric shapes and lines, compositions of layers of ink, oils, and other mediums that are often inaccessible.


•There are reflections of historical richness, the physical strength and boldness of exactness, and the generosity of infinite possibilities. Human Landscapes draws us in close to the artist in his studio, allowing us to imagine our own stories inside his paint.


•Eric Kelly, the painter, grants us a glimpse into his mind. There are multiple layers of persona, human depth, history, and ancestral memory layered in imagery that speak to a universal code of soul, heart, and vision.


•In many interviews with Eric, I am always amazed by his all-night painting marathons and how seriously committed he is to his craft and process. Yet, he is not the recluse artist who disappears and only appears to proclaim his newest work.


•North Carolina and Durham specifically experience Eric Kelly, as an artist and social entrepreneur who intentionally contributes to the overall health, development, and well-being of our communities. We experience him as a creative thinker, maker whose work provides us joy, interaction, and inspiration.


•This catalog of story and arresting musicality of color and intention provides sincere guidance and directives for readers to better understand an expressive painter who has perfected a profession for working with historical, social, political, and contemporary contexts. Eric Kelly’s work instructs us to observe how memory serves as the medicine that recreates different literacies within the language of his social practice.


•All of the art that we are invited to experience in Human Landscapes is the retelling of many truths deeply lodged in personal, social, and political geography. This body of work is a testament to Eric’s rich human fluency in communicating individual experiences that draw our collective humanity in closer to see, hear, and feel our own truths inside his paintings.


•This publication should be accessible as a teaching tool and especially available to the emerging artist who might be struggling with what it means to create art that can illuminate what lies hidden, repressed, or marginalized. Eric Kelly challenges the status-quo of traditional modes of art representation that has not and does not make space for him or other artists who protect and understand their own worthwhile validating the currency of their artistic property.


•Eric Kelly is a trailblazer, maverick, visionary, and artist who is not erasable. He is utilizing his business savvy and his creative genius to bring new ideas to life.


•This contemporary artist understands the importance of legacy exemplified in his creation of the Eric Kelly Museum paying homage to his elders who provided and nourished the light for his magnificent journey with his art. This act of creating a showcase for his work is a tremendous model for other artists who feel marginalized or ostracized by mainstream art institutions.


•Human Landscapes is an important imprint that offers a different perspective of a challenge to the possibilities for changes in attitudes regarding the role of the artist in the community. Eric Kelly’s transparency and vulnerability throughout these pages is a transformative offering that is tangible and a message that we all can embrace and support.


•We are surrounded by pages of complex originality of a great artist hidden in plain sight awaiting massive discovery. As a collector, I encourage other collectors to look at Eric Kelly’s art as I believe he has the potential to become a more important contemporary Black artist in America and beyond.

•By Jaki Shelton Green is an American poet. In November 2009, she was named the first Piedmont Laureate by a collection of Triangle-area arts councils

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