“Stringy Girls” Exhibition Interview

KIT King

Canadian contemporary artist whos emotionally charged hyperrealistic portrait paintings have been the subject of exhibitions around the world. Interview explores her influences and recent exhibit “Stringy Girls”

I’ve always been drawn to creating as real looking works as possible. As a kid drawing portraits trying to get a solid likeness… Hyperrealism was just the natural progression of things for me. I like the idea of including details that normally go overlooked on a day to day basis. It sort of gives you this peek into a hidden world that’s right in front of us. Makes you look at things differently.

Stringy girls, a late bed doodle experiment.

What is it like on a typical day in your studio in Ontario, Canada?

It’s a very small quiet rural town in the middle of nowhere. I converted the largest portion of my humble country home into my studio. Leaving just enough living space in the rest of the house. A typical day in the life of ‘Kit King’ is pretty much like “Groundhog Day”… My days are all the same. Filled with work from when I get up, to when I go to bed. Thankfully I love what I do.

If you could sit down with an artist who has had the biggest impact on you, living or deceased, who would you want to chat with and what would you ask them?

The artist with the biggest impact on me has to be my pa. I have a difficult time talking with people, so I actually painted a portrait of him to say what I wanted to say to him.

Tell us one of your favorite quotes from a poet or author & why?

I don’t have any favorite anythings. Not sure why. I think certain words or images and such just affect me differently depending on what’s going on in my life when I hear/see them. It could also be my indecisiveness keeping me from choosing any faves.

They say eyes are a window to the soul… You have a few paintings that are close up, detailed eyes, piercing back at the viewer. What inspired this concept and created your signature artwork and hyperrealism style.  How do you want your viewer to identify with your paintings?

I’ve always been drawn to creating as realistic looking works as possible. As a kid drawing portraits trying to get that solid likeness. Hyperrealism was just the natural progression of things for me. I like the idea of including details that normally go overlooked on a day to day basis. It sort of gives you this peek into a hidden world that’s right in front of us. It makes you look at things differently. Creates this new awareness. Sometimes entire tales can be found in the tiniest details, and without them there, you are missing a vital part of a person’s story.

Take for example an eye. You can paint an eye, and it’s just an eye. But if you paint it in a hyperreal sense, you can suddenly see what the eye is looking at in the reflection, you can see the redness and hyperemia indicating tears welled there. By adding in the extra information in painted details, you get extra information about the story or message you are trying to convey. When you paint hyper-realistically, you get a deeper sense of connection to the subjects you’re rendering. Every scar is a story, every crease, and micro-expression a hint towards their character.  It’s an alluring world.

Tell us more about “stringy girls” – the concept behind this series and linear direction to your overall perception.

Stringy girls started off as a late bed doodle experiment. I ended up falling in love with the idea of this image that showcases fragility and constraint. I like the way it makes my heart beat faster when it comes time to “ruin” them with these lines over there completely rendered faces. Yet there’s something therapeutic and absolving about it.

Are there any specific artists or bodies of work that you turn to for inspiration?

My Rolodex of inspiration is constantly turning, although it’s generally not drawn from other artists. There are hundreds of artists I admire. Some that inspire me in their work ethic. But no set body of work I turn to for inspiration per se. (I blame the indecisiveness again.) haha no… I’m just always shifting. What inspires me is always changing. The styles I’m drawn to are always evolving. So there’s never been a body of work to inspire my own work.

It’s interesting that you are self-taught and feel that your process is more organic and true because of this. Besides drawing every day and studying technique, is there any advice you would give to young artists with the same outlook?

It’s tricky because I’m sure art education has much to offer. I’m sure you could learn things faster and look at art differently. But it will always be through someone else’s eyes. If you’re told one way of doing something, you may never find your own way of doing it. Art is the soul countenance… It’s the one free thing we have. But keeping it “pure” is next to impossible in this day in age. Everything we see and hear will influence our art. However, art for me is my escape from the world that’s force-fed down our throats every day. And I don’t think art would be the same for me if someone else were telling me how to do it, or how to look at it. My art may never be as “good” as it can be for not having studied art, but it will always be “me”, and that’s all I could ask for. The only advice I could really give is “remember why you started.”

What is it like collaborating with your husband and are there other artists you would like to collaborate with in the future/ group show?

Collaborating with my husband is insane. It’s the best experience hands down. Doing what I love the most, with the person I love the most is a dream come true. Can you really ask for anything more than that?

There’s no one I’m really itching to collaborate with. That sounds awful, but I’m just not a fan of collaborating, to be honest. Art is my “me time”… I got lucky that it’s as uncompromising as it is working with my husband since we always seem to be on the same page. I just like to create to escape and not have to worry if I’m doing the right thing. If it looks good enough or if what I’m doing will be liked. Sort of sucks the fun out of it for me. So just collaborations with Oda for now.

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