The Rise and Rise of Jordy Kerwick

Jordy Kerwick quickly found his calling as an artist after experimenting with painting garden pots in his Melbourne courtyard in 2016. 

“I just painted over it and it felt really nice, it felt cathartic.
I painted a palm tree coming out of a pot and a cigarette.
I got really obsessive and started finding more things I could paint over.”
(The Artist)

Fine Art. Leonard Joel Auctions
JORDY KERWICK (born 1982) Still Life 2017, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 32cm. $12,000 – 20,000

Kerwick’s gritty, thick impasto still life works often consist of skeletal-like flowers bursting out of small, decorated pots, often propped up on books. There might be a hovering presence in the background – a cigarette, banana, cassette tape, or even a toy. His ability to take what seems so universally domestic and innocent and strip the beauty back to a raw aesthetic is what has developed his vast fan base. His more recent works look at predatory animals, specifically tigers, alongside domestic objects to create vibrant, expressionist, and playful compositions. 

Since starting his own family, Kerwick has touched on a new theme which has formed the basis of his recent bodies of work; “retaining your youth”. Crediting his family as his key inspiration and motivation, Jordy describes his new-found joys as a parent and how this has influenced his practice:

“Life isn’t about you anymore it’s about your kids, it’s a relief, finding the balance and trying not to get old and jaded”
(The Artist)

While it’s his family that inspires his integrity as an artist, Kerwick’s visual inspirations are vast. Contemporary counterparts such as Andrew Salgado, Adam Lee, Rhys Lee, and Wolfgang Vogel have all had a profound impact on Kerwick’s works, using similar colour vibrancy, layered imagery, mark making, and text; these can be seen across his practice and are now defining characteristics in his oeuvre.  

Jordy Kerwick’s paintings are now seen in major galleries and auction houses spanning across New York, Berlin, and London. Kerwick’s incredible rise over a short period of time has been augmented by curatorial support abroad from Vito Schnabel in New York and Toby Clarke in the UK. Kerwick’s rise was further cemented on the secondary market when his oil on paper work of a lion attacking a two-headed beast sold for €17,000 at Sotheby’s in London. As a measure of his expanding market, this record only lasted a day, with Phillips auctioning a still life piece Cool Cats 2019 selling for €82,353 before their New York outpost offered Le Tigre achieving a staggering US$220,000. 

To see a self-taught artist grow with such market vigour in a short period of time is a rare occurrence in today’s market where talent and competition is fierce. Leonard Joel is honoured to be the first Australian auction house to present a work by Jordy Kerwick for major public auction.

LUCY FOSTER / Fine Art Specialist

Banner Image: JORDY KERWICK (born 1982) Still Life 2017, acrylic on canvas, 42 x 32cm. $12,000 – 20,000

May 2022