“A post-industrial Rococo master, Kris Kuksi obsessively arranges characters and architecture in asymmetric compositions with an exquisite sense of drama. Instead of stones and shells he uses screaming plastic soldiers, miniature engine blocks, towering spires and assorted debris to form his landscapes.
The political, spiritual and material conflict within these shrines is enacted under the calm gaze of remote deities and august statuary. Kuksi manages to evoke, at once, a sanctum and a mausoleum for our suffocated spirit.”
Guillermo del Toro
Born March 2, 1973, in Springfield Missouri and growing up in neighboring Kansas, Kris spent his youth in rural seclusion and isolation along with a blue-collar, working mother, two significantly older brothers, and an absent father. Open country, sparse trees, and alcoholic stepfather, all paving the way for an individual saturated in imagination and introversion. His propensity for the unusual has been a constant since childhood, a lifelong fascination that lent itself to his macabre art later in life. The grotesque to him, as it seemed, was beautiful.
Kris Kuksi garners recognition and acclaim for the intricate sculptures that result from his unique and meticulous technique. A process that requires countless hours to assemble, collect, manipulate, cut, and re-shape thousands of individual parts, finally uniting them into an orchestral-like seamless cohesion that defines the historical rise and fall of civilization and envisions the possible future(s) of humanity. Each sculpture embodies the trademarks of his philosophy and practice, while serving as a testament to the multifaceted nature of perception – From timeless iconic references of Gods and Goddess, to challenging ideas of organized religion and morality, to the struggle to understand, and bend, the limits of mortality. None is complete without a final and brilliant touch of satire and rebuke all conceived in the aesthetic essence of the Baroque fused with the modern day industrial world.
In personal reflection, Kris feels that in the world today much of mankind is oftentimes frivolous and fragile, being driven primarily by greed and materialism. He hopes that his art exposes the fallacies of Man, unveiling a new level of awareness to the viewer. His work has received several awards and prizes and has been featured in over 100 exhibitions in galleries and museums worldwide including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Kris’ art can also be seen in a number of international art magazines, book covers and theatrical posters. Kris’ art is featured in both public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Australia that include individuals such as Mark Parker (Nike CEO), Kay Alden (three time Emmy award winning writer for Young and the Restless & Bold and the Beautiful), Fred Durst (musician, and film director), Chris Weitz (movie director The Golden Compass & Twilight: New Moon) Guillermo del Toro (movie director Pan’s Labyrinth & Hell Boy 2) and Robin Williams (Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actor).
Interview with Kris Kuksi by Creative Mapping (28/12/2013).
His work has been described as ”mind-blowing, macabre, and beautifully grotesque art”; his sculptures are owned by celebrities such as Robin Williams, Guillermo Del Toro, Chris Wietz, and Wendy Asher… and his paintings described as so realistic they could be photos’ or almost esoteric.
He is American sculptor Kris Kuksi – and his internationally recognised works have exhibited in over 100 galleries and museums worldwide – including the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
Creative Mapping asked Kris about the unique processes he goes through when creating his world class masterpieces… and how dedication and determination has aided him in his success.
ABOUT KRIS KUKSI
CM: Where do you live and what & where did you study?
I live in Hays, Kansas. My studies were in the Fine Arts, both BA and MA in Painting and this took place at Fort Hays State University located in western Kansas.
CM: What do you do?
I watch a lot of documentaries while gluing thousands of pieces of things together and on stuff. I also paint and draw once in a while.
CM: How did you become a professional creative?
It was a gradual shift from working a lot in the student painting studio, to working a lot in a personal studio. The momentum came from my dedication to my art and my determination to show wherever I could. Submitting to juried shows, galleries began to see what I did and eventually I was present in various invitational shows. As for the first commissioned project of my sculptures, Mark Parker, Nike’s CEO, asked for a piece about ten feet long, and Imminent Utopia was created in 2008. Others that own my work include filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pans Labyrinth), Chris Wietz, Robin Williams, and Wendy Asher.
CM: Tell us more about your working environment and tools of the trade?
Since the summer of 2011, I’ve been working in a large studio space that includes a gallery and freight elevator (a bonus). Within this space, there are drawers and shelves full of collected materials–model kits, resin statues, doll houses, action figurines, and plaster and wood moulding, to name a few. Any cleared off surface does not stand a chance, leaving no area of my studio tidy to onlookers.
CM: What is your creative process, from inspiration, through to the execution?
For me, anything that gets the creative juices flowing and inspires me is used.
Books of architecture from all over the world and the Dover book collection. When travelling, I revisit the museums that have the old masters, and I look for new places to wander through. Sometimes a piece starts as a rough sketch, at other times it comes from looking at a piece I have lying around or found online. I have to somehow bring together all these lifeless pieces of stuff into a presence of a living work. I don’t stop gluing until the piece is breathing and all boring spots are filled.
CM: Your biggest achievement to-date?
I’ve always been an artist and never considered anything else, therefore, some may see it that being a professional artist is my biggest achievement. But I also realize that after receiving a patent for my Churchtank, I’ve created an icon in the world of art history.
CM: What are your biggest challenges as a creative?
My biological needs like eating, visiting the WC, sleeping. These have become challenges that are an infringement on my time in front of a piece. I’m still figuring out how to deal with this daily struggle.
CM: Your favourite art suppliers?
In a town north of Hays, population of 1,500, there is a little model railroad and hobby store called End of the Line. Marian has exactly what I need every time.
CM: Best place to escape and what inspires your creativity the most in your city?
My family and home ‘ that’s my refuge. And as for what is inspiring in my city, the Kansas plains attracts creativity like a blank, flat canvas. There’s nothing here, which allows a lot with the imagination. However, my inspiration comes from the visits I have with Dr. John Cody.
CM: Are you part of a creative community – and do you ever work from caf”s?
The only way I get things done is when I’m working in my studio. Social media sites are one way that I touch base with a community, but I’ve never felt the need to be networking or sitting in an artist group. Living out my purpose that is an offer to mankind, I have to be in creative solitude. However, when approached, I am always open and willing to share what I can.
CM: Which professional festival & trade-shows are a must for you?
Art Basel and Satellite Art Fairs are important. But what gets me revved up the most are aerospace museums and lectures about UFOs and ancient aliens.
CM: Your dream project?
To build a home, a small castle of my own design that includes a space to establish the first Kuksi Museum.