We are used to hearing about the movers and the shakers of contemporary art such as Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, or Andy Warhol. But we have a fondness for artists who have worked on small-scale projects that have universal appeal and depict the intimacy often missing from commercially driven large works.
Ken Kiff (1935 - 2001) is a master of the playful small-scale medium. After leaving art school, he descended into a dark night of the soul; fortunately, he was ushered through this period of his life by a Jungian psychotherapist. Kiff creates images that draw us in and give us a space to ponder the ample mysteries of human nature.
The artist painted and re-painted Man Greeting Woman which playfully shows the joyful encounter between two nude figures whose bodies and gestures reveal the spiritual practice of openness. The man wears a large hat that he is gently tipping toward the seated woman. Seeing this image, we immediately thought of the humility and respect that is part of the Sufi practice of adab.
What of the woman? She has her head tilted and there is a gentle Buddha-smile on her face. She leans back, receiving the good vibes and the energy of this stranger. She returns his bow with her own glad tidings of love and acceptance. Kiff does a remarkable job conveying the beauty and the bounty of the mysteriously open exchange between these two human beings. "All real life is meeting," the great Jewish scholar Martin Buber stated. This wonderful painting by Ken Kiff magically conveys that truth.