Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Kari Cholnoky

Kari Cholnoky's studio sits somewhere between a sci-fi laboratory, searching for the cure to our bleak and dismal future, and a costume shop, designing cutting edge couture for the Muppets. I am thinking of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem in particular. While they have no shortage of humor, Cholnoky's artworks are incredibly sophisticated. They are laden with quips derived from blown-up consumer photography (that she has made at Walmart) to cleverly repurposed sex objects ordered and searched for online. Cholnoky's 2020 mash-ups are spot on ⁠— futuristic malaise is combated and transformed into unforgettably tactile and totally visionary contemporary art. Hopped up on boiled eggs, Kari's go-to studio chow, I position myself to draw with a WTF look on my face, while the mad scientist herself sorted through her parrot-colored materials.

Kari's punchy, furry, modular macrocosms are hard to unpack, but the results are as riveting as they are gratifying. In fact, the work is so compelling that I was recently willing to stand with strangers breathing down my neck just to get a good view of one at a show she was in at Anton Kern. Fissured surfaces get layered up with the color sensitivity of a Joseph Albers. Ghostly blues, Pepto pinks, and sour tangerine oranges are set off by exaggerated shadows of synthetic hair and orifice-like blobs. Sometimes sculptural protrusions look like part of a human body or at least an alien one. One piece in particular was lined with finger-like knobs that had been lit at their tips with bright red paint. Another piece's bottom half was encrusted with what looked like chopped up arteries, the depths of their crevices leaving a lot up to the imagination. Cholnoky's work is so unique, it is as though she is foreseeing the future of art. Her horizontally stretched paintings have always made me think of a sexier mission control panel. So maybe after taking our protein pills and putting our helmets on, we can press one of Cholnoky's gnarly doo-dads and sit in a tin can far above the world.

It really restores my faith in creativity to see someone like Kari making work. It reminds me that we haven't seen everything yet ⁠— thank god. She has two fantastic pieces up now in "Cult of the Crimson Queen" at Ceysson & Benetiere curated by Michele Segre. To see more of Cholnoky's work go here http://karicholnoky.com/index.html