The Art of Nick Kushner
Los Angeles, CA
by Lexa Vonn
Photos by: Lexa Vonn
In a seemingly abandoned building in the heart of downtown L.A., lies Servitu, an art gallery specializing in gothic and fetish esthetics. Entrance to the events held there are mostly by invite only or word of mouth. But for the true art enthusiast, the set up alone is not one to be omitted from exploration. The show somewhat begins as you enter into the parking lot and are greeted by a smattering of sinister ushers who nonchalantly point you in the direction of the party. You are told to enter the door housing the mannequin, then you are brought up in a freight elevator, and having no idea what floor you are on, are instructed to follow the lit candles down the pitch black hallways. Once you reach your destination you enter into a space that is much less rugged. Inside Servitu is beautiful Victorian inspired striped walls, a giant movie screen featuring a film on bloodletting by Tony Silva for this particular occasion, an iron cage and some other odds and ends. It was the perfect setting for breakout artist Nick Kushner, our host (literally) and honoree of the evening.
I check in with the guest list woman who is decked out in a sheer hunter green latex dress and proceed to view the works of this controversial genius. Kushner, who is best known for his creation of The Nachtkabarett, a website dedicated to art, occult, and Kushner's mentor and friend, Marilyn Manson, has clearly come into his own. I first met Nick Kushner while working on the set of Manson's "Arma goddamn motherfuckin geddon" video. Having both been in Manson's inner circle, we were already aware of one another but hadn't yet been introduced. Like long lost siblings, we immediately clicked and upon awareness of his work, I became an instant fan. See, Kushner is no ordinary artist… he paints in blood. And although, it may look as if you've just entered a vampire's coven, Kushner assures us it all his own innards that are sprawled across the canvases.
"When you insert your entire being into something you do or create and unleash it into the world it's like giving metaphorical birth and a life changing act. Each piece is an externalization of what lies within oneself and each piece completed represents the next plateau one reaches on his path to ascendance. This is also why the blood which is used in my pieces is always my own, if it were anyone else's it would only be a slightly more lurid way of buying paint at an art store ; it would contain an element of remove if it were any other way."
But don't dare dismiss him as simply a shock artist as his works are a delicate and precise display of realism. With his fans and friends consisting of rock stars, drag queens, groupies, magicians, film makers and drug dealers… he does have the pop appeal of Warhol, but mixed with the passion and skill of the early Renaissance artists. Combined with a character mix of anti-heros such as GG Allin, Sid Vicious, and Marilyn Manson, Kushner expresses his obsessions with both beauty and brutality. He is the rock star of the art world. When asked why he chooses his main medium, he responds
"The motivation behind the use of blood in my art from the beginning was the literal insertion of myself into my works. Where the line between the creator and creation is indivisibly blurred. I choose to approach my art, as well as my life, on the same level as alchemy where the path the magician undertakes is a transformative process. Using blood, and the pain which is involved with its acquisition, acts as a cathartic process to unleash an inner transformation within oneself."
"As part of this transformation process, the greatest motivation behind virtually all works of art, music and literature which are considered to be sacred by society today (aside from love and greed) has been catharsis. That is, taking an experience which is tortuous and devastating, but instead of allowing it to overcome you, the artist assimilates it and uses it to his advantage by expressing it within his art to subdue the affliction which threatens to destroy him."
As a journalist and sometimes critic, I believe there are no wrong answers when viewing art. It is a personal experience. For me, Kushner's work speaks of self- sacrifice in the name of telling his own personal story. He digs into his body as he digs into his soul and exorcises his demons, turning what is sometimes tragic, into something beautiful. Alas, we are reminded that pain is also beautiful. Perhaps, it is this catharsis that he speaks of, that keeps at bay the devil that is within us all. For more information, works, contact and prints, please visit : http://www.thethirdangelsounded.com/
The exhibition will be on display for the next month by appointment. To schedule a viewing or to purchase works, contact : StudioServitu@Gmail.com or 619-800-0746.
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