Born 1947, New York, New York; lives New Haven, Connecticut.
Ken Grimes has long been fascinated by the idea that intelligent life exists in other regions of the universe—and by the possibility that aliens may have had and continue to exert some forms of influence on the thoughts and actions of humans here on Earth. Grimes is a visionary, passionate artist and a dedicated and obsessive researcher who ceaselessly explores myriad bits of arcane data drawn from popular accounts of scientific research, as well as science fiction, news reports, and his own life in the conviction that he—and perhaps only he—will ultimately identify significant patterns and interpret elusive meanings that might prove alien contact with Earth.
Since the mid-1980s, Grimes has used to his art to document, depict and convey his discoveries and speculations. His paintings are stark and dramatic. Working almost exclusively in black and white acrylic paint on canvas or wood, or in black ink on white paper, Grimes presents bold, sparsely drawn symbols and texts (often displaying spelling and grammatical errors, which may or may not, to his mind, be seen as intimate evidence of interstellar intervention). A Grimes painting may consist primarily or entirely of a text rendered in his signature style white block letters on a black ground; typically, the work might describe unusual outer space phenomena or reference narratives from myth, history, or personal experience which, the artist suggests, could indicate some kind of alien presence. Accordingly, his paintings illustrate and describe mysterious occurrences, troubling questions, or speculative arguments about extraterrestrial phenomena and take their place within the widespread, popular culture fascination with alien contact.
In effect, his paintings reveal a passion about other-worldly forces that might suggest a religious inspiration, making his works something other than exercises in pop culture imagination or merely obsessive, personal rants. Grimes is driven to create his work through his sincere—and determined—search for signs of a cosmic connection with Earth, by his belief in the imminent confirmation of unsettling truths, and by his confident belief that art can be an agent of revelation. Essentially, his is an apocalyptic vision.
- Charles Russell
2010, Ken Grimes: Contact–New Evidence, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York
2007, Ken Grimes: Elusive Messages, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago
2003, Ken Grimes: Messages from Outer Space, Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York
Museum of American Folk Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Russell, Charles, “The Truth in Black and White: The Art of Ken Grimes,” Raw Vision, No. 50, Spring 2005.
Self-Taught artists of the 20th Century, Museum of American Folk Art, New York, 1998.
Maresca, Frank and Roger Ricco, American Self-Taught: Paintings and Drawings by Outsider Artists, Knopf, New York, 1993.