Kansas-based Kris Kuksi is something of a contradiction: his thoroughly contemporary practice displays a deep nostalgia for “old world” aesthetics. Throughout his mixed-media assemblages, gods and monsters mingle with historical figures, toy soldiers, nudes, and animals amid miniature landscapes of scaffolding, train tracks, refineries, and plumbing, all resembling decorative bric-a-brac in tiny form.
Resonant with the times, Kuksi is a scavenger of pop-cultural castoffs. His intricate assemblages combine mass-produced “junk”—toy soldiers, plastic skulls, knick- knack figurines, and mechanical bits—into rococo tableaux with the 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. Reflecting the artist’s ambivalence about contemporary culture, ornate beauty and horrific excess are kept in an uneasy truce. 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.”
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