Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Beast Anthology, an exhibition of new mixed-media works by the Kansas artist Kris Kuksi.This is Kuksi’s second solo show with the gallery.
Resonant with the times, Kuksi’s art contains both micro and macro dimensions. A scavenger of pop-cultural castoffs, Kuksi combines mass-produced“junk”—toy soldiers, plastic skulls, knick-knack figurines, and mechanical bits—into rococo tableaux. His intricate assemblages of small parts and large figures resolve into highly aestheticized totems with an air of neoclassicism. But unlike the idealistic fantasies depicted in art of the Belle Époque, Kuksi exposes the dark, crass, even mercenary underbelly of civilization.
The sculptural assemblages of Beast Anthology play broad riffs on a variety of morality themes. In The Temptation of St.Anthony, for example, the patron saint of lost and stolen articles is shown in a state of existential angst. Arrayed around this central figure are lost causes of every sort, from war-weary soldiers, to lost dogs and cows destined for the slaughterhouse, to detritus of obsolete technology. St. Anthony forms the towering pinnacle of this triangular composition; unable to intercede, he casts his doubt over the entire votive like the burnished pall of the work’s bronze-colored patina.
Almost hilarious by contrast, Gertrude Von Howitzerhen is a wry visual joke on blind faith and the eternal optimism of power. A chicken with a howitzer gun for a head is the large central figure in this multi-tiered scene of ruinous ecstasy, which includes robotic whores of Babylon and artillery of all shapes and sizes. Yet the spry, can-do spirit of this headless chicken is evident in the ladders, buttresses, and overall industriousness of the work’s meticulous construction. As the artist notes,“I get inspired by the industrial world, the rigidity of machinery…My art speaks of potentiality and motion attempting to reach on forever and yet pessimistically delayed…I treat morbidity with a sympathetic touch.”
Born in 1973, Kris Kuksi earned his BFA and MFA in Painting at Fort Hays State University and lives and works in Hays, Kansas. Solo exhibitions of his work include Imminent Utopia, Joshua Liner Gallery, New York (2008);Oblivion (with Richard Kirk), Strychnin Gallery, Berlin (2007); The Strange and The Fantastic, Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, Kansas City, MO (2004); and The Within, Fraser Gallery, Washington, DC (2003). Selected group exhibitions include Overdose, CoproGallery, Santa Monica, CA (2009); Paradise Lost, Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn (2008); and Flights of Imagination,Museum HR Giger,Gruyères, Switzerland (2006).