bleeps & bloops

Kris Kuksi at Joshua Liner Gallery
November 27, 2008, 2:13 pm
Filed under: Art | Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Beast of Babylon

I have been a fan of this artist for sometime now but my love/fear of him skyrocketed when I got the lucky opportunity to view his work in person at the Joshua Liner Gallery on opening night last Saturday.

And I thought I was detail-obsessed.

This man takes it to a whole other level and makes me feel completely sane by comparison, which is a nice feeling.  What you can barely make out in the above photo, and which I found so astonishing in his work, are the tiny little people scattered all over that are merely a few centimeters tall. There are in fact two clinging to the base of the bone closest to the camera. Performing all sorts of acts depending on the theme of the piece, their many positions actually express emotion, which in itself, is quite a triumph of detail.

From the Joshua Liner Gallery site-

Constructed from pop-culture effluvia—such as model kits, injection-molded toy soldiers and animals, plastic skulls, knick-knack figurines, and mechanical parts—these intricate assemblages combine mass-produced “junk” into rococo tableaux. At once grand and grotesque, these friezelike works register from a distance as architectural ornamentation from the Belle Époque. Up close, the agglomerations of macabre parts take on a Bosch-style chaos, with skulls, skeletons, and other gnarled forms compressed into a dark tangle.

The visual tension between ornate beauty and horrific excess has broad resonance for Kuksi, who strives to merge a nostalgia for “old world” aesthetics and a distaste for contemporary culture into his art. Greek gods mingle with monsters amid a miniature landscape of scaffolding, train tracks, refineries, and plumbing, all resembling decorative bric-a-brac in their combined, tiny form.

Born March 2nd 1973 in Springfield Missouri and growing up in neighboring Kansas, Kris spent his youth in rural seclusion and isolation along with a blue-collar working mother, two much older brothers and absent father. Open country, sparse trees, and later alcoholic stepfathers, perhaps paved the way for an individual saturated in imagination and introversion. His fascination with the unusual lent to his macabre art later in life. The grotesque to him as it seemed, was beauty. In adulthood his art blossomed as a breakthrough to personal freedom from the negative environments experienced in youth. He soon discovered his distaste for the typical and popular culture of American life and felt that he had always belonged to the ‘Old World’. In personal reflection, he feels that much of mankind in the World today is elastic and fragile being driven primarily by greed and materialism. He hopes that through his art he exposes his audience to the awareness of the fallacies of Man.

It sure is nice to enjoy someone’s work and their philosophies.

Where does he get all those cool little parts? My understanding is that many of the components are scavenged by Kuksi from toy modeling companies from all over the world. He procures much of it in Asia where he travels regularly to acquire new and rare pieces which he then reconfigures into these astonishing sculptures.

After leaving the gallery I felt an immense feeling of sadness and disappointment, which I didn’t expect. I think it was the fact that Kris Kuksi is a human and not a god. I saw him for myself in the gallery and he was a mere mortal.  In addition, his sculptures are put together with glue, and not just liquid imagination. This was also disconcerting.

While staring at the pieces, I began to conjure an image of the artist’s mental state in my mind, based solely on conjecture. I imagine him to be quite introverted and I wonder how he fields all the attention he receives, whether he enjoys it or just deals with it. I wonder how mentally stable he is. I am confident that expressing one’s needs through one’s artwork is the one of the most healthy ways to deal with obsession. But I still feel for him. And I feel an immense gratitude that he shares these pieces so I can ponder and be inspired.

His work is at Joshua Liner Gallery from Nov 22 – Dec 20.