Jear Keokham is an artist, creative, writer, educator, and independent curator. He was born in Oakland, CA and currently splits his time living in the East Bay and working in San Francisco. Keokham graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018 with a BA in Art and a History of Art minor. From his studies, he was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in New Genres, inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, and was recognized for High Distinction in General Scholarship.


Keokham was a Creative Dissent Fellow in Escuela de Arte Útil at YBCA in 2017, and the 2018 summer Curatorial Intern for Contemporary Art at SFMOMA. He has been included in exhibitions at the Worth Ryder Art Gallery in Berkeley, Southern Exposure, and Minnesota Street Project in San Francisco, in addition to various alternative art spaces across the Bay Area.

Photograph Courtesy of Norman Fung, 2016

Fundamentally, Keokham identifies as a cultural accelerator to detest the hierarchy of labels. In other words, he does not prioritize any particular practice over another. He approaches work with a neoliterati philosophy, an independent study that renovates the Chinese literati tradition where essential qualities of an idea are prioritized over realistic representation. Keokham actively cites histories and speculative futures through a research based process appropriated from various fields of study. It is a modality that rebrands conceptualism as the extraction of truths from both lived nuances and shared scholarship.


His interests in philosophy, politics, and popular culture are fermented into his lexicon. Often times, humor and poetic tropes will surface as conveniences in some work while critical intensities are central to others. With a concentration that is both pseudo in nature and pragmatic in means, Keokham seeks to marry elements of unlikely harmony to confront power structures, social stratifications, and symbolic positionalities through populist yet cryptic gestures.


His guide to art making is that his work needs not to be understood as art in order for it to function and that function itself needs not to be a prerequisite for the existence of work. The meditation of this principle allows Keokham to maintain a continual aspiration toward contemplative freedom as a neoliterati conceptualist.


Photograph Courtesy of Wendy Li, 2018


// minimize

*sometimes i write in an elusive art speak that can only be understood either with explanation or by those who can decipher this type of language but sometimes i write in a style that is a little bit more immediate...

honestly, i code switch depending on who i think the reader might be. i have no desire to be the type of writer that caters only to one type of reader. there are just certain ideas that can only be communicated or accessed through a particular vernancular and i see no point in limiting oneself through language. i approach artmaking with the same premise.

the root of my art practice is simple... i read a lot... i mean a lot... and that informs most of what i do. what i am interested in is an artless art, an idea-centric focus so to speak. i am research based but i consider any and everything that i do as research.

i do things that can be categrozied under the labele of new genres but i do not make work just for the sake of the avant-garde... i do think believe that art for art sake is an artless art but i do believe that making things to communicate an idea without regards for art can be artless.

sometimes i play with politics. sometimes i'm controversial and provocative, sometimes i can be trivial and ironic, but either way, i live to embrace... to be quite honest, i live art and what i am talking about is something that exsists beyond the white walls of a gallery or museum space. there is art in the everyday and my hope is to make sense of that.