The Work of Kris Knight

Canadian painter Kris Knight’s visions of androgynous beauty are quietly confrontational and threatening yet innocent and vulnerable.  He examines the performance around sexual and asexual identity in relation to their construction, portrayal and boundaries.  Every painting has an undercurrent of something tangibly sinister despite its veneer of glamour and prettiness.  His subjects seem disillusioned and disconnected.  Androgynous, ageless and ambiguous, each lives up to a quiet ideal of beauty inherent and familiar in many different cultural conventions.  Some retain an heir of regality reminiscent of 18th century French stately portraits of nobility that betray very little of the personality of a sitter other than his worldly position and desired impression.  Knight’s figures feel more effortless and their power, rather than wealth, is eroticism.  They stare out at their audience knowingly and somewhat cynically, fully aware of their compelling appeal and unimpressed by the inevitable attention gleaned by their presence and languid posing.  Precious, porcelain skin shines and glistens delicately on Knight’s figures but this sheen of perspiration hints at a sickly spoilage like off milk despite its blemishless perfection.  Romantic and rich, Knight’s paintings have obvious classical influences and have a ghostly, unreal quality similar to fashion shoots and posters but a ghostly and pale palette suggests that all is not well, perhaps coercion, exploitation or voyeurism lurks behind these pristine figurations or perhaps these are just the lusty narratives imposed by a jaded audience.  Blending flashes of real memory and nostalgia with fantasy, Knight’s work has a profound psychological feel that charms and unnerves his viewers all at once.

 

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