Kris Knight is Canadian painter whose work examines 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.
The creative focus of Knight’s work involves the construction of imaginary and biographical character-based portraits, that attempt to find a balance between the dichotomies of pretty and menace, myth and reality, sanctuary and susceptibility. His classical meets illustrative paintings allude to various expressions of duality, often dealing with opposing notions of hiding and fronting, defense and vulnerability, innocence and the erotic.
Symbolist and Romantic painting, especially 18th century French portraiture and costume have influenced Knight’s work, as well as historical references of alchemy, mysticism and the macabre. Contemporary notions of androgyny, fashion, grunge, zombies, psychoactive drugs and small town Canadiana have also been depicted within various series. These sometimes-stark portraits of strength, exhaustion, and isolation, are often sugared with magic, mischief and humour.
Throughout Knight’s exhibition career, he has threaded each painting series with the unifying theme of defense and vulnerability, whether it was depicted in his character’s dress (hoodies, trapper parkas, Nordic sweaters, blankets, furs, powdered cake makeup) or seasonal settings (foreboding forests for secretive queer rural teen love, or fields of scarecrow-like characters portraying small town migration at harvest) each painting is linked by this theme and bound by Knight’s own personal stories.