Feeling Bad


Ink on paper

41 1/2 × 31 1/4 in

Feeling Bad, an early work made by Mike Kelley while he was still a student at the California Institute of the Arts, defines the essence of the creative force in the form of an indeterminate vortex that cuts through a human body. At the top of the work, we can see swirling motifs, a chaotic tornado that is ultimately absorbed by the figure of the artist standing along the central axis like Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Various phrases of its creation are described on the side: “head high”, “bend over” (and throw up), “sit quick” (and defecate), “lay down”, “low down”, and “the earth”

The creative energy that both runs through and over the artist’s body is channelled, digested, and then returned in this vision of the creative act. This drawing was related to a performance and was then manhandled, as can be seen from the torn edges. 

The Pinault Collection first showed this work in 2023 at the Bourse de Commerce, as part of the exhibition Mike Kelley. Ghost and Spirit.