Jeremy Kost : A Single Man
11 rue Sainte Anastase, 75003 Paris, France
OPENING NOVEMBER 12th — 7pm – 10pm
Jeremy Kost: A Single Man
Galerie Nuke is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Jeremy Kost. Known for his Polaroids and collages featuring nightlife denizens, drag queens, and models, Kost has done what few artists can; he has enacted an unexpected turn in his work while maintaining its accessible roots. The Polaroid has been, since its inception, marketed as a tool for the layman, and it changed the mindset of an entire generation that could suddenly document the poignant minutiae of everyday life. Powered by the documentary urge of the 1980s and 90s, the art world is likewise saturated with well-meaning homages to the candid party picture, but few are able to transcend derivation and imbue their portraiture with personal flair and art historical rigor.
This new series combines Polaroids of lone men with flamboyant swaths of paint that tentatively unite these solitary figures. Like Andy Warhol and Lucas Michael, who have created heretofore unseen worlds with the ostensibly simple Polaroid process, Kost reworks a medium historically tied to instantaneity in order to build complex and multilayered images that, despite their subject matter, deliciously retaliate against easy consumption. These paintings add a resistant patina of thick paint that is still brilliantly subtle, like the coquettishly flushed Rococo cheeks of Jean-Honoré Fragonard and François Boucher. Kost’s sensual pigments dance with excess, a modern day art brut that recalls Jean Fautrier’s grotesque, sedimentary compositions that are gloriously engrossing even in a state of abjection. In this way, our interaction with Kost’s seemingly straightforward landscapes and interiors becomes interwoven with the politics of paint in all its tactile unruliness. Kost gives us a night at the club, bodies coming together under saturated lights, only to be separated in the gathering dawn.
Like the Polaroid, which cannot be replicated, Kost’s models always exist in isolation, yet he unites disparate figures with the grid, thereby creating a partial visual continuity. Kost’s use of the grid is not unlike the feminist-formalist erotics of Agnes Martin, Helen Frankenthaler, and Elise Adibi, whose regimented forms do not preclude an engagement with identity politics. Similarly, Kost rattles the grid’s reductive, organizational function by amplifying the presence of the body – both in the form of bodily flesh and in the flesh of his chosen medium. Each picture is by definition as unique as a human being, for when the Polaroid is finished, there it sits, complete and irreversible – an immaculate, chemical conception. The finitude of the single Polaroid means that there is no going back once the film has developed; it is a productively insecure process that Kost handles adroitly. Not unlike Sally Mann, he knows when a picture’s flaws add to or detract from the strength of the image.
When one considers these traditionally opposed art historical and technical factors – order, chance, sexuality, formalism, expressionism, minimalism – it becomes clear why so many of the figures in this series seem so introspective. Both the photograph and the sitter – for Kost, both are equally tangible – are doing an incredible amount of work toward conceptual ends that surpass the archetypal party picture. Kost is the guy who self-confidently brings a book with him to the dance floor.
William J. Simmons