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A Magazine for Sheffield

Kris Kuksi: The Architecture of Fantasy

Kris Kuksi’s art is so vast that we would’ve liked to have printed a special, double-sized edition for you this month. Even then we could only hope to capture some of the intricacies of his sprawling assemblages. Made over a period of months with all manner of materials and found objects, his sculptures are both profound and humorous – a combination which doesn’t always fit comfortably together, but with these pieces grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go. Writing from his home in Kansas, Kris tells us a bit about his work and his inspiration. What initially drew you to creating art? Just an impulse since childhood. Maybe someday brain researchers will discover an artist gene, but perhaps my rural upbringing brought about an artistic life. Being alone in the countryside makes for a developed imagination. I've seen your work referred to as 'fantastic realism'. Is that a label you subscribe to, and if not, how would you describe it? That refers more to my early years of making art, namely the paintings and drawings I did from about 2000 to 2005. I try not to subscribe to any labels. Humans love to categorise everything and everyone, but I think it is irrelevant and just shows our discriminatory impulses. I'm just a person who composes things and voices it artistically while doing it. What materials are your sculptures made up of and how do you go about assembling them? The materials include wood, plastic, resin, paper, foam, metal, sand, rocks, enamel and acrylic paint. They are mostly comprised of ready-made kitsch objects or model kits that are manipulated in some way to fit the composure I want. Thousands of parts can make up one medium-sized piece -- it is a very long journey placing objects in order for it all to look good, and certainly can't be thrown together on a whim. The average piece can take up to a month, though I do have to have everything to do so. These works tell me what they need in terms of shapes or objects, so I become the task master in finishing up. Where do you source your materials? Everywhere the items are found – in hobby shops, antique stores, donations, Ebay, Ebay, Ebay, and Ebay. Could you give us an idea of the scale of them? Most of them are around 15 to 40 inches in length or height. I've done one as long as 11 feet, and I have finished a piece as high as 9 feet. Also on the micro level of within 10 inches by 5 inches. What inspires you? There seems to be a big architectural influence in your work, and also a touch of H R Giger. Human psychology and behaviour, the Baroque, architecture, the industrial world, sex, death, deities, mythology, humour, music... The core structure of a piece is the most important thing, so architecture is my biggest interest. I am influenced by a number of people and Giger is certainly one of them, though the old world is really my guide. How has your approach to art changed over the years? I'm not sure if it has ever changed. I do this full time and enjoy life in a very unstructured way. I really enjoy the freedom. This kind of approach when creating makes it seem less like a job or a requirement but rather just a flow of ideas and building of those ideas. What do you dislike in art? I've never enjoyed how a few individuals take it upon themselves to say what art is and how it should look. Trends come and go and I am wary of being locked into a slot of fads or trends. I try to stay immune to such things and I work towards something more timeless. Art is like love – you can express what you feel but you can't always use the limiting words of the human language to describe exactly what it is. What projects or pieces are you working on at the moment? Ten new works for my solo show in New York City at the Joshua Liner Gallery this coming November and another piece for Art Basel Miami in December. After that, a show in Los Angeles in 2014. With such a schedule I always strive to create new things, challenging myself and trying to have fun, stay sane and take care of my family. Do you have any advice for people trying to make a profession out of art? Never give up. Be selfish. Don't work for free. Settle for compromise only when it is needed. Be crafty. Don't copy anyone else. Don't over-commit. Make as much work as you can but don't make too much. Question everything. Don't follow trends. Avoid distractions. Travel the world. Do art for humanity. Share yourself through art, but remember that making art is not about you. Constantly be critical of your work. And again, never give up. [imagebrowser id=37] )

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