THE HIGH AND MIGHTY , oil on canvas, 40x30" 2011 www.krisknight.com
In this new series, Knight paints a makeshift misfit kingdom that revolves around the narrative of a romantic secret society. Drawing from personal histories of rural escapism through imagination, Knight paints disenchanted youths who long for the drama and grandeur of the old world dynasties. His mythical and ambiguous characters are bucolic outcasts - shamed, bullied, tragic and beautiful, they transcend the tedium of small town life for the protection of the enchanted forest, banding together to form an exclusive and rustic regality. However, like any alliance, even within secret societies, roles are cemented, hierarchies are born, corruption erodes, and tragedies contort what was once deemed utopic.Inspired by the writing of Antonia Fraser, Sandra Gulland and Maurice Sendak, Knight's paintings of a fictitious misfit kingdom subtly play with notions of 17th and 18th century European court culture, drawing especially the Bourbon and Habsburg dynasties, two of the most exclusive, sexual, inbred, and consequently tragic alliances ever to rule.
Kris Knight spent his youth in six small towns in rural Ontario before moving to Toronto where he currently lives and works. A portrait painter foremost, Knight's mythical and often ominous works examine performance in relation to the construction, portrayal and boundaries of sexual and asexual identities. Since graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2003, Knight's practice has concentrated on thematic figurative works that are often as attractive as they are disturbing. Knight started exhibiting with Katharine Mulherin in 2005. In the past six years he has exhibited nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions and international art fairs. His work is included in public and private collections, most notably The Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, The Oppenheimer Collection, The Agnes Etherington Museum of Kingston, The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, and 21c Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. Recent exhibitions include "A Deadly Nightshade" at Spinello Gallery in Miami, "The Reflexive Self" at Mike Weiss Gallery in New York, Zona Maco in Mexico City, and a feature at this year's ArtParis. Recent press has included the Miami New Times, Miami's Sun Post, Xtra Magazine, Pref Magazine and Toronto Life. Knight is represented by Katharine Mulherin Contemporary in Toronto and Mulherin Pollard in New York.
The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Toronto Arts Council and the Ontario Arts Council for this project.