Kris Kuksi is an artist of seeming contradictions.
One moment he’ll be fascinating you with his grotesque, darkly themed “Mixed-media Assemblages”, or disconcerting you with his jarringly electric fantastic realist visions; and the next moment he’ll surprise you with classical portraiture, traditional figure drawing or a delicate, naturalistic rendering of a freshly opened orchid or a dew spattered iris.
I first encountered Kuski’s work at a gallery here in Philadelphia where one of his assemblages was attracting a lot of attention on a “First Friday” gallery walk in the Old City gallery district.
These sculptural objects (image at left top, with detail, below) are wonderfully intricate constructions of pop culture effluvia like plastic model kits, injection molded toys, dolls, plastic skulls, knick-knack figurines, miniature fencing, toy animals, mechanical parts and ornate frames or furniture parts; assembled into grotesque tableaux that look a bit like an explosion in Hieronymus Bosch’s attic or H.R. Giger’s dollar store.
These constructions are usually given a patina of light grey that pulls them together and gives them a nice fake antique look that makes them perfect for that alcove in the dark hallway in your Victorian mansion that leads to the Room that None Must Enter.
I can say from seeing these close up that the photos on Kuksi’s site (in the gallery section labeled “the grotesque”) don’t do them justice. There are better photos, with details, along with an interview, on Dark Roasted Blend. There is a short time-lapse video of the assembly of one of his constructions on MySpace.
When I looked up Kuksi’s web site on returning from the gallery walk, I found more of these assemblages, along with some of his “fantastic realism” paintings and drawings, that range from Art Nouveau meets H.P. Lovecraft to psychedelic visionary paintings that lean into Alex Grey territory (image at left, bottom left).
Continuing to the “portraiture” section, I was surprised to see a portrait that I had come across elsewhere and made mental note to look up, not realizing at all that it was by the same artist who did these constructions (Portrait of George Gillaume, image at left, middle with detail). I was further surprised to see, in Kuksi’s “naturalism” section, detailed, contemplative paintings of flowers and images of animals.
Kuksi paints in acrylic on Gessobord. Most of the images in his galleries are accompanied by highrer-resolution versions accessed from a link in the description text. Don’t miss the fact that many of his galleries have more than one page, accessed by small links at page bottom. There are numerous images from the many sides of this multi-faceted artist.
In my research I stumbled across this listing for a Drawing Workshop with Kuksi in Germany in the summer. Please note that I’m not certain if this is current.
On his deviantArt page, Kuksi lists some of his favorite artists as Alphonse Mucha, Ernst Fuchs, Robert Venosa, Alex Grey, and Andrew Gonzales. Hs also lists his “interests” as Art, Music, Science, Philosophy and Maritime Cannibalism.