Saturday, March 6, 2010

Brian Kenny

All by myself, with a keyboard, I can be like an eleven-year-old girl with my idolatry.  I apologize.  I can gush.  In life, face to face, it doesn't even register that I am impressed with a guy, unless you check my fly ... or so I have been told, two or three times.  If I could only somehow find a balance in the middle, manage a certain amount of cool detachment along with an ability to frankly acknowledge interest without sounding like a (female) cast member of Bye Bye Birdie ... but over five decades of man crushes, I have managed only two settings: nonchalance and breathless enthusiasm.

Brian Kenny is my favorite living artist.  I have to hold back from adding "in the whole wide world."  He lives in New York with his partner, Slava Mogutin, who coincidentally is one of my favorite photographers.  He's tall, 6'2", hairy chested, and twenty-seven, and he wrestles.  What more could I ask for?  In our occasional, limited online exchanges, he has been friendly, witty, serious yet offhanded about his art.  I would dearly love to own some of it, especially his anarchic, kaleidoscopic maps of the urban id, even more especially his drawings of wrestlers wrestling.

Kenny was the only expression of wigger-dom that ever appealed to me, when he first caught my eye, droopy pants and backwards baseball cap and all, drawing energy from Lil Kim and Luis Bunuel, Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Wojnarowicz, splashing color in ambitious, inventive compositions that express celebration and outrage in equal parts.

His work in the last year or two has matured, grown richer and deeper, without losing any of his youthful edge and sense of absurdity.  Sure, I have to ask myself whether I would be as slavish in my ardor if he weren't good looking (and if he didn't wrestle), but those factors aside, even while confessing their prevalence in the sort of stuff I tend to like, his work strikes me as what, a hundred years from now, people will look to, to get a sense of what dreams and desires were like in the first decade of the twenty-first century.


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