Kit King is a contemporary artist that has shown her work on a global platform. Kit’s art is often created on a large scale and has this magical ability to draw the viewer into her work. Her previous oil paintings have evolved into shredded pieces that are now reconstructed by hand to form a whole piece symbolizing the need to both create and destroy. Her portraits leave the viewers wondering about the messages behind the deconstructed pieces. I often wondered what Kit thought of herself personally, as she allows the viewer to see so many sides of herself within her work. Some pieces are disturbing to look at, others are very intriguing but all are appreciated by my eyes and are viewed as a visual feast. I have admired Kit and her work for years.
First, let me say that you are one of my favorite hyperrealistic painters. Seeing your work at Last Rites Gallery years ago got me hooked on your sheer talent. I actually think you have grown stronger in technique since then, if that is even possible. Your work is raw and allows the viewer to go deep within your spirit. I feel a connection to you through your work as you leave your emotions out there to be both touched and taken. You let all of your emotions show within each piece and I admire you for that.
Because curator Mashonda Tifrere is also someone who I admire, I would like to know how you became part of ArtLeadHer? Can you tell us about your upcoming group show, King Woman, here in NYC at Pen and Brush? Your painting “Gemini” appears to be an oil painting that has been spliced. Is this a new technique for you? Do you feel as if it brings another dimension to your work? More texture? More emotion?
Mashonda is wonderful. Such a strong beautiful spirit. She reached out to me a while back when she was curating a show at Joseph Gross Gallery in NYC, which I believe was her first ArtLeadHer exhibition. She rounded up a group of badass lady artists and wanted me to participate, and I, of course, was honoured to take part. I’ve been working with her since.
The King Woman exhibition is the latest ArtLeadHer exhibit curated by Mashonda, at Pen and Brush in NYC. It opens October 12th, and is comprised of 25 like-minded women who share the ultimate goal of effecting real change in the marketplace for all women.
My painting “Gemini” is part of a body of work I’ve been exploring that consists of cutting up the fully rendered paintings into strips, to look as though they have gone through a shredder. It serves as a visual commentary on the destructive nature of man, and disposable nature of society. Not only does this technique add visual and dimensional interest, but also I hope to elevate emotion when viewing these works with an empathetic response. So many people ask why I would cut up my paintings and are instantly met with tension/anxiety/uncertainty when viewing them, but fail to feel these emotions when we tear one another down in reality. We value the objects based on reality more than reality itself. It has become object over man. Or woman into object. This is a huge problem in and of itself, but what’s more critical is that we are also living in a world where everything is disposable. So what happens when people are valued less than the objects that we are so ready to discard? What does this say about how we value one another?
So I hope through these works the viewer doesn’t simply end with unease, but then asks themselves why this is acceptable, that there is an emotional and empathetic introspection that takes place as well. I know for me, they certainly have been emotional to create -as I’m sure you could imagine- asking any artist to cut up their finished painting they spent countless hours on will no doubt elicit some high emotions. My hope is that this is transferred to the viewer.
Congratulations on being in the running for the Kingston Prize Portrait Competition this year. What does a self portrait mean to you and how did it make you feel to see it completed?
Thank you kindly. That piece was actually the first of that cut up series. I completed it at the last minute before submissions were closed (shhh), and I had never cut up a painting before. It was not only my first to cut up, but also my largest hyperrealism portrait at the time. If it did not pan out, I would be left with no time to create and submit another work. I took a massive risk and I think that risk is an inherent part of this self-portrait. Not only is the actual portrait meeting the viewer with an unabashed and strong defiant gaze, but the follow through with slicing it up was this defiant and intrepid act.
For those that know me, or about my story, they know I have struggled with severe social anxiety and agoraphobia now for years. As a result, I’m very much a recluse- I’ve not left my home in quite some time now. So everything I’ve been doing, I’ve been doing from these small walls. Which goes against everything I’m told about the art world- how you need to go get an art education, you need to get out and schmooze, get out to openings, and meet people. Well, I’ve been unable to take the traditional route given my circumstance, but rather than defeatedly looking at this as a fate that will never pan out, I’ve dug my heals in and ran at it straight on- giving it all I’ve got. To me this self portrait is far more than painting an image of my face. It is a reflection of me as an individual and as an artist. It is my defiance. My boldness. My tenacity. It is also my vulnerability, my compassion, and empathy. This portrait reveals so much about myself as an individual far past just what I look like or what my artistic skill set is. It’s my essence written in paint- and THAT to me is what a self portrait is; when you can feel emotion past the expression, or tones used. When you see more than rendered features and brush strokes- but when you see their soul. When the medium and the artist work as one.
To see it completed I was met with mixed emotions. Firstly, I was glad it wasn’t a total disaster and that I could submit the work hah. I was also amiss it was over, b/c it was such a pivotal mark in my artistic practice, and journey of self-discovery, and for me, creating is the best part of being an artist… I don’t paint for the feel-good moment when it’s done- I live for the moments spent creating. Though for someone whose life is pretty tightly controlled by fears and anxieties, there was a moment of gratification to overcome my anxieties with this work in cutting it up. There was relief, happiness, and hope in knowing I could be this “brave” person, and shove aside all the ‘what if’s’ and just go for it. To be the risk-taker I lack in other areas of my life, that maybe one day I could project onto.
Please talk about the work you are creating for your solo shows in 2018. Will we be seeing a new body of work at Galerie Youn and Treason Gallery or are you stretching yourself on a series you had already created before? May I ask how you chose to show in those two galleries? What about those galleries interested you?
I will be creating two new bodies of works for each of those shows. I have so much I want to touch on and my voice is so loud, so I tend not to stay still with the same body of work for too long. Too much to paint and not nearly enough days in a lifetime to paint them all. Though consistency seems to be a huge thing galleries/collectors/curators look for in artists, so I may pull some aspects of previous works to help tie them into my main oeuvre. These two galleries actually reached out to me for the shows. I’ve shown with Youn Gallery before and love working with them. Juno- the owner is fantastic, and we’ve been building a great relationship this last year, so I knew right away I wanted to take up their offer on a solo. As for Treason Gallery, I actually haven’t ever worked with them, but a few of my peers have and they had great things so say, so since they are willing to take a risk on me, I figured I’d take the risk on them too, and we’ll see if it pays off.
I cannot wait to see the brilliance you will be creating over the next several years. Where do you see yourself in 5 years, Kit?
Thank you so much. I honestly don’t know. I mean I have goals of course, but five years ago if you had asked where I thought I seen myself, I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be where I am. But I do see more risk taking, and a pushing my limits. We’ll see where it takes me.