John Urho Kemp (1942-2010) graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1965 with a degree in chemical engineering and biochemistry. He worked as a chemical engineer for almost two years, then quit to study Scientology in England and Los Angeles until 1971. He spent the next decade running an antique store in Los Angeles. Amongst other interests, he traveled the world to witness solar eclipses and frequented hot springs of Northern California. Throughout his life he sought revelations through meditation, metaphysics, formulas, and numbers, recorded primarily in pencil and pen on the blank surfaces of scrap papers.
Much of his work was refined and compiled into compact documents that were then photocopied and leafletted as a means of sharing his findings with as many people as he could. An online archive of his work is underway, and includes poems, equations, drawings, and collages from 1979-2010.
We owe the rescue and archiving of his numerous works to his friend, the photographer Aram Muksian, namely thousands of pages, diagrams, sketches and numerical sequences, to the point of colonizing endless bundles of dot-matrix printer paper.
Daniel Baumann – curator, art critic and current director of the Kunsthalle of Zürich as well as of the Wölfli Foundation in Berne – dedicated an exhibit to him at the 548 Center in NY in 2014.
au-delà : on the edge of the visible and the invisible, christian berst art brut gallery, paris, from march 7th to april 13th, 2019.
do the write thing #2 : read between the lines, christian berst art brut gallery, from 26th april to 2nd june, 2018.
drawing now art fair, le carreau du temple, from march 22th to 25th 2018.
the museum of everything, from june 10th, 2017, to april 2nd, 2018, MONA (museum of old and new art), berriedale, australia.
in abstracto, christian berst gallery, paris, from june 8th to july 15th, 2017.
brut now: l'art brut au temps des technologies from october 29th to january 16th 2017, musées de belfort, belfort. curator christian berst; associated curator brut pop.
cracking the code, appleton square, from october 7th to november 3rd 2016, lisboa, portugal.
art brut : a story of individual mythologies, works from the treger/saint silvestre collection, oliva creative factory, 18th june until 28th february 2017, são joão da madeira.
on the wire by jean-hubert martin, christian berst art brut gallery & jean brolly gallery, from april 9th to may 22th, 2016, paris.
preTENse, from september 12th to october 21th, 2015, christian berst art brut gallery, paris.
john urho kemp: a bermuda triangle, christian berst art brut gallery, from may 30th to july 11th 2015, paris.
outsider art fair, curated space by daniel baumann, new york, from may 8th to 11th, 2014.
exhibition catalog, au-delà : aux confins du visible et de l'invisible, christian berst art brut ed, paris, 2019.
exhibition catalogue, do the write thing 2: read between the lines, christian berst art brut ed., 2018.
multitudes review, n°69, winter, 2017.
catalogue d'exposition, in abstracto, christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2017.
exhibition's catalog brut now: l'art brut au temps des technologies, les presses du réel ed., musées de belfort, belfort, 2017.
exhibition catalog, on the wire by jean-hubert martin, christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2016.
exhibition's catalog, john urho kemp: a bermuda triangle, (paris, christian berst art brut gallery, may 30th - july 11th, 2015), christian berst art brut ed., paris, 2015.
aram muksian, john urho kemp : selections from the archive: 1979-2010, self-published by aram muskian, 2010.
selective press review
- à l’avant-garde : john urho kemp – sans titre – 2002 authors delphine neimon in the artchemists, june 6, 2017.
- de l'art brut art high-tech authors Stéphanie Lemoine in l'oeil, january, 2017.
- Une œuvre d’art a-t-elle toujours un sens ? authors Philippe Godin in diagonale de l'art - blog Libération, June 18, 2015.
- John Urho Kemp – Un triangle des Bermudes authors Benedicte Phillipe in Telerama Sortir, June 10, 2015.
- Abracadabrantesque authors Alain Berland in mouvement.net, June 1st, 2015.
- Les Jeudis Arty, la nocturne d'art contemporain revient dans le Marais le 4 juin authors Tania Brimson in Timeout, June 1, 2015.
- CHOICES PARIS 2015 authors Guillaume Benoît in Slash, May 29, 2015.