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Shay Kun

Page 1 | Biography


Shay Kun utilizes a rich, bold color scheme and a highly legible figurative style to render paintings that exhibit the humorous interplay of the stratified world socio-political situations. Implementing vibrant acrylic hues and imagery from Saturday morning cartoons, urban magazines and internet clip art, Kun lends a universality to his visual language. De-individualizing his figures and compositions and edging into the viewer’s everyday subconscious, Kun uncovers a path to an otherwise complex issue, ultimately subverting Pop-culture by accessing its latent socio-political content.


Kun creates moments of absurdity within otherwise charged atmospheres while simultaneously paying homage to the culture of backyard rural neighborhoods. A heavy handed and self-conscious approach to paint simultaneously lends Kun’s work both expressionistic and kitsch qualities while retaining a thrift store tongue in cheek façade to mirror imbalanced social frequencies.

The explosive growth of slums in the last decades, from Mexico City and other Latin American capitals through Africa to India, China and Indonesia, and the Middle East is perhaps the fundamental geopolitical affair of our time. Very soon (or perhaps, given the imprecision of Third World censuses, already) the urban population of the earth will outnumber the rural population. Slums have mushroomed because of the Third World’s inclusion into the global economy. Cheap food imports from the First World have destroyed local agriculture forcing millions to flee the countryside. Their existence is the true "symptom" of slogans like "Development," "Modernization," and "World Market."

The subjects that inhabit these grounds are "free" in the double meaning of the word—"freed" from all significant ties and dwelling in a free space outside state and police regulations. They are large collectives, compulsorily thrown into a situation where they must invent some mode of being-together, while simultaneously deprived of any inherited ethnic and religious traditions.

A possible answer to this state of affairs is for each prey to become a predator. But it is not the only one. Another common strategy is the ‘normalization’ of things.
If Kun forms a tendency, it would necessarily be a trans-generational and trans-national one, encompassing a flair for the nostalgic, forceful and immanent ‘backyard’ of his native land where his roots permeated and blossomed.

This brings us back to our main hope for a truly "gratis world" which lies in the wild universe of the rural areas. We should examine these places and collectives for signs of new forms of social awareness - they will be the seeds of our future.

In the series, Kun renders fervently-colored, emotionally imbued paintings. In these rooted places magic can be found.

Shay Kun
New York, NY
New York
North America

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Web Links
Shay Kun Website
Shay Kun at White Columns
Shay Kun at the Buia Gallery, NY
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