Jonathan LeVine Gallery is pleased to announce Motion Portrait, a solo exhibition of new works by the New York based French street artist known as WK Interact. WK’s ephemeral artwork includes wheat pastes and large-scale murals of figures in high-contrast black and white; each piece is site-specific and his imagery is always placed in accordance with its surrounding environment. Known for his elaborate creative process, scouting and sketching locations, staging models for photo shoots, and distorting their image on a copy machine, the artist creates exaggerated visual effects (or illusions) to convey rapid movement. In an age where the evolution of civilization seems to be accelerating at a speed of development—much like the figures in WK’s work—faster than we are able to process the change, the artist conveys themes of violence and mortality through a strikingly graphic and gritty aesthetic, one that is internationally recognized and regarded as distinctly his own.
In addition to mixed-media pieces containing found objects and WK’s trademark style of distorted figural imagery, Motion Portrait will also feature a group of large-scale paintings. Expanding upon his signature monochromatic aesthetic, this portrait series—entitled 12 Angry Men (referencing the classic film)—portrays the faces of twelve male subjects painted in black and white acrylic on raw canvas. These larger-than-life scale works, each measuring six feet square, mark a new direction for the artist. Shifting focus to the faces of his subjects is a departure from much of WK’s prior work, which involved the entire body in motion. Using a looser approach to painting the series of portraits in this show, WK allowed himself merely one chance to achieve the desired effect. With a sponge and large brush as his only tools, he left some areas of the rough canvas partially exposed. A degree of risk was also involved by choosing not to paint-over anything, firmly committing to every drop of paint. Using broad gestural smears and splatter techniques, blurring the forms into perspective, WK continues to capture explosive movement with powerful emotional depth and raw energy.
ABOUT THE ARTIST WK Interact was born in 1969 in Caen, France. He currently lives and works in New York. At a young age, WK was interested with the human body in motion, his paintings of figures frozen in a flight of movement reflects this infatuation. The artist’s technique of twisting an original drawing or photograph while it’s being photocopied, results in the monochromatic palette and streamlined moment-in-time appearance of his finished work. WK site-determines his placements by finding an appropriate location first, then his imagery is chosen specifically with a concern for encounters in an urban environment or “interactions” (as the artist indicates in his pseudonym). In the late 1990s his images began appearing on building facades in downtown Manhattan. He has exhibited in galleries (and on the streets) around the world, but has lived and worked in New York City for the past fifteen years. Over this time he has seen many changes—inside and outside of the art world—but his work remains inspired by New York, complimenting the constant stir of bodies and the perpetual motion of contemporary urban life in the fast-paced city, driven by intense passion and fear.