First published: Winter 2023/24
Kris Kuksi’s intricate sculptures, constructed from model kit components, conjure a supernatural world in which good and evil compete
Fans and art critics have drawn parallels between Kris Kuksi’s visionary artwork and that of science fiction author HR Giger, but Kuksi himself says that artists like fifteenth-century Hieronymus Bosch and twentieth-century Surrealist Salvador Dali have also provided inspiration. The work takes the form of intricate and compelling sculpture which he creates in his workspace in his home in the city of Lawrence, Kansas. From 2014 until 2020, he worked out of a late-nineteenth century white clapboard church in the city. It was the perfect setting for an artist who excavates the nooks and crannies of religious symbolism to create his apocalyptic and supernatural sculpture.
Phantasma, 2008, 28 x 31 x 11 in. / 71 x 79 x 28 cm
Kuksi’s working process is complicated, at times involving two assistants working quietly alongside him, sorting parts and taking his direction as to what goes where. There is a method to his madness, with dozens of wall bins each with its own label: “wings”, “birds”, “insects”, “tigers”, “alligators”, “animal parts”. Scattered across the floor are taxidermy models, full-sized plastic wings of ravens, plasticine classical statues, hundreds of plastic model kits for cars, spaceships, sailing ships, tanks, jet fighters, war machines, and more. Like a hobby shop turned inside out.
Leda and the Swan, 2014, 121 x 96 x 37 in. / 307 x 244 x 94 cm
Born in 1973, in Springfield, Missouri, Kuksi spent much of his childhood learning to take care of himself. His father was an alcoholic and generally absent in his young life, and his mother was away most of the time working an hourly job. When she remarried, Kuksi’s stepfather moved the family to a small Kansas town and Kuksi found himself in a rural community with little to do.
A New Divinity, 2007, 36 x 36 x 9 in. / 91.5 x 91.5 x 23 cm
However, those childhood years turned out to be filled with wonder, creativity and exploration for him, and he also remembers having a couple of paranormal experiences. Describing one of these, when he was about nine, he says:
“Our house was in the middle of a field... Late one evening, at twilight, I was playing outside... I had this burning feeling of being watched. Looking to my right... I was stunned to see this face staring right at me. It was solid grey with large, black, slanted eyes – eyes that seem to go beyond the edges of the sides of the face. It had a very thin, long mouth, curved downwards in a frown-like expression, but it didn’t give me a feeling of dread or emotion. I just understood that it wanted to watch me... The longer I looked, I was positive it was not some natural tree root or limb... I had the idea to run back to the house to get my binoculars. When I returned, I went to the exact spot and looked again, but it was gone. It was years later that I read reports about grey aliens, many reports of creatures matching my experience.”
by JOHN FOSTER
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #117.