Kim MacConnel is an influential artist in the Pattern and Decoration Movement of the 1970s. Working with design elements, MacConnel has made frivolity a fine art. Taking cues from Picasso and the so-called “primitivists,” MacConnel has taken the primitive and made it relevant in different dialogues between cultures. MacConnels’ paintings may look as though influenced by the Cubists, which they are, but there is a deeper meaning below the surface based in the materials he uses, and the meeting place he creates through cross-cultural interactions.
MacConnel has worked in San Diego for the past 30 years, and has recently retired as a professor of art from UCSD. MacConnel is a seminal figure in the Pattern and Decoration movement of the seventies, but overall MacConnel’s oeuvre has surpassed being categorized. His sensibility and talent has created a unique language using color and composition. He persuades the viewer to appreciate the appeal and conceptual property of patterns and draws inspiration from such wide-ranging and multicultural resources as the textile arts of numerous world regions, found graphic images, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.
In 1969 MacConnel received his BA from UCSD and an MFA in 1972. He has taught in the Visual Arts Department in various capacities between 1976 and 1980, and permanently since 1987 until retirement in 2009. His work has been exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial Exhibition’s in 1975, 1977, 1979, 1981, and 1985; The Museum of Modern Art’s An International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture, 1984; The Venice Biennale, 1984; inSite 1992, 1994. MacConnels’ work belongs in such collections as the National Gallery of Art, the Morton G. Neumann Family Collection, The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Albright-Knox Gallery, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
“What marks MacConnel as an original is his shameless embrace of decoration and the messiness with which he manifests his vision of a world run riot with dots, dashes and zigzags. His spirited assaults to highbrow sanctimony are loudly and liberally interspersed with sinuous lines, slapdash shapes and simplified renditions of bounty, beauty and leisure…” — David Pagel, Art in America, February 2004