BUIA Gallery is pleased to announce Nails and Feathers, an exhibition of new work by Shay Kun. Interested in the myriad of socio political and cultural influences at stake in an ever more international world, Kun depicts visions of that world by juxtaposing pristine, idyllic 19th Century Hudson River School like landscapes with contemporary figures and scenarios. Regular people, athletes, workers, and soldiers varyingly interplay with bears, massive butterflies, helicopters, hot air balloons, and kites in bizarrely optimistic, elegantly discordant scenarios. The works depict diligent, ambitious human effort in the face of unmoving, serene nature, and in that notable discrepancy Kun’s critique is born.
Shay Kun’s work manipulates notions of scale, technique, and juxtaposition of imagery to construct a particular mental arena. In Nails and Feathers, 2008, for instance, Ultimate Fighting Champion Chuck Liddel, a.k.a. the Iceman, holds on to an extended red rope in a triumphant wide legged stance bursting with energy and victory as an atomic bomb mushroom cloud replaces his head in a typical Kun intervention. Completing the Iceman interplay, a massively oversized, seemingly pasted-on butterfly traverses the Iceman’s rope as though it were a tight rope, slowly approaching him in a hint of disaster to come. In the left foreground, a shrunken down heavily armed soldier waits aside his jeep watching the scene, perhaps waiting to intercede? Juxtaposing this scene against an early fall landscape with changing leaves and the ephemeral nature of the butterfly, Kun constructs an allegory of the transience of triumph but with a distinctive lack of judgment and a beautiful calm.
Another work, Premonitions, posits a truck full of armed soldiers ready to shoot riding towards the tip of an arctic glacier in the evening. To the left of the soldiers, a dwarfing ice formation closes in. To the right, more ice and the looming dark shadow of the jeep lurk menacingly. Directly in front of the soldiers, a small area of open water looks forward to a mountain of ice in the distance and two massive bursts of fireworks, one nearly entirely visible, the other half obscured, beaming forth with color, cheer, and palpable energy. Here the extremes of joyous fanfare celebration and the dark violence of war come face to face, teetering in unlikely balance with only the ice caps and water serene and calm in the still of night unaffected by surrounding forces.
Nails and Feathers continues this discussion of the paradigms of good and evil and the dichotomies of man versus nature and progress versus regression, but it is the optimism and humor with which Kun approaches these issues and the beauty with which he renders that comes forth with the most impact.
Shay Kun is a Goldsmiths graduate. Recent shows include Perversion is the Love We Feel When Others Feel Love at Seventeen Gallery in London and Artfutures at the Bloomberg Space in London. He will be participating in Pole Shift curated by Project Gentili as part of the VIP Program of Artforum Berlin this fall. Upcoming shows for 2009 include a solo exhibition at Quality Pictures in Portland, OR and another at David Castillo in Miami, FL. We are very pleased to announce Shay Kun’s solo exhibition Nails and Feathers at the gallery.