Friday, May 3, 2013

Winnie Truong and Kris Knight at Mulherin-Pollard Gallery

Cracker Crown ( Small Town Prince ), oil on canvas, 72 x 48 in., 2013
      At first glance, Canadian artist
Kris Knight's paintings look like images of disinterested hipsters from a jeans ad, with a wan, fashion model look. That's an apt description but then he tosses in an element that catches you off guard and takes you and the character to another place. But he  leaves that place vague and non-descript, too, giving very little information as to who? what? where? and just like that, you're forced to fill in the blanks.

     In some it's simply a hat or crown that starts the process in motion. These are simple pieces, but not simplistic. This is one of those instances where you should skip the statement about the work and just let it happen.

"Loose Lips Sink Ships" (L) and "Two Stripe Captain" (R)
both oil on canvas and 30x40"
Laurel Island, oil on canvas, 60x48 in., 2013

"Fair Share of Deceit," 44 x 36", colored pencil on paper, 2013

    I've written here before about Winnie Truong's work - they're fun, captivating, and evoke a "Holy shit! That's color pencil?!?!" response when you get close. Particularly on the heroic (artspeak for huge) six-eight foot pieces on paper I saw at (I think) the Affordable Art Fair a few years ago. I wanted one so bad, but the logistics weren't doable. However, she also had smaller pieces but they somehow didn't grab me the same way, although they still retain the same intense draughtsmanship.

     This show had some new twists to her work, not just scale-wise. The piece below, "Genesis," has two full figures, angelically wrapped in hair, parts looking like wings. This is 44x50", the first of her work that I've seen in a mid-range size.

Genesis, 44 x 50", colored pencil on paper, 2013

     In "The Other Ends" she continues to explore identity and portraiture with hair, knots, masks using  her signature face/hair designs but combining faces or heads as well. Playful and smile-inducing, yes, but don't get fooled - there is serious and focused work being done here.

"Junction," 44 x 36", colored pencil on paper, 2013

"Wispy and Wily," 22 x 18" , colored pencil, 2013
187 Chrystie St., NY, NY 10002
April 4-May 15, 2013

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