John Paul Kesling

Nashville, TN


Flower FIeld, 2022, Oil, oil stick, spray paint on panel, 60 x 48 in., $6500
Madison, Tenn. – Sep. 28, 2021: John Paul Kesling in his home studio.


I paint to understand the world around me. It seems as necessary as digging in the dirt – dragging your hand through a body of water – across a freshly buzzed head. Painting is historical, primitive, and elemental. Images say what words cannot, like a melody in a song. Through intuition and humor, nostalgia and conversation, I seek honesty through imagery. Rarely sketching, I let the materials and surfaces guide me. Employing painterly brushwork, collage, color, and movement, the work presents a utopian/dystopian account of the day-to-day world. I don’t see painting as a linear progression, but more of an archaeological dig. Each unearthing brings new answers and, perhaps more importantly, more questions.


John Paul Kesling (b. 1980) was born and raised in Northeastern Kentucky in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. He received his BFA in Arts from Morehead State University (Morehead, KY) and spent a semester in Europe studying art history. In 2010, he received his MFA in Painting from The Savannah College of Art and Design. He spent the next six years in Brooklyn, NY immersed in the NYC art scene. In March of 2016, while attending a month-long residency at The Vermont Studio Center he realized how integral time, space, and nature were to his studio practice and in 2016, relocated to Nashville, TN.

His work has recently been featured in various group exhibitions at The Parthenon (Nashville, TN), CultureLab LIC (Queens, NY), Piano Craft Gallery (Boston, MA), New York Hall of Science & SciArts Initiative (Queens, NY), Prince Street Gallery (New York, NY), Flatwork Contemporary (online), I Like Your Work Podcast (online and print), ArtMaze Mag (online and print) and Create Magazine (online). In 2022 he was accepted to the White Columns Curated Online Artist Registry (New York, NY) and his work was recently added to the Soho House Nashville’s permanent collection. He has had recent solo shows at Wheelhouse Arts (Louisville, KY), Oz Arts (Nashville, TN), and The Red Arrow Gallery (Nashville, TN).

He’s currently represented by The Red Arrow Gallery (Nashville, TN) and Wheelhouse Art (Louisville, KY) and has a dog named Maggie.

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