1xRun Thru Interview
Trinket by Kukula
1xRun: Tell us a little bit about this piece, is the original still for sale?
Kukula: The original painting was created using oil paint on MDF. From start to finish I would say this piece took about two weeks. No, the original was sold during the Scope Art Fair in 2011.
1xRun: Was this piece part of a recent theme, series or show that you had?
Kukula: It’s part of a continuing series that I’m doing where certain themes are painted on the character herself. Every girl has different symbols and designs on her body but no surroundings. She is naked in an empty space telling her story through the images represented on her skin. She’s the canvas in the canvas.
1xRun: Anything you would like to highlight about this piece?
Kukula: Most of the time my work is about things I love and am inspired by. This piece is an homage to stage performance using the classic symbolism found in baroque designs on that theme. For example, Marie Antoinette had theatrical motifs in Versailles.
1xRun: Tell us how the idea and execution came about?
Kukula: I drew the character on the board in detail, using references from antique art collections and books that I have. My favorite is the Wallace Collection in London. Then I seal the drawing with a thin layer of gesso and paint a thin layer of blue under paint with watercolor. This is a mockup of shadows and highlights that I use before moving to oil.
1xRun: Why should people buy this print?
Kukula: Because it looks almost like an original and it has an amazing frame! You like gold and my work…I think that would be my reason.
1xRun: Describe this piece in one gut reaction word.
Kukula: Comedia Del-Arte.
1xRun: In the past we’ve talked about some of your influences of fashion, who are some of your favorite designers (or styles even) lately?
Kukula: My last show was based on one relatively new Russian fashion designer, Ulyana Sergeenko. Her garments tell stories and evoke emotions in a similar way to what I think I do. I never saw anything like that. I’m a long time fan of Chanel and wear as much of it as possible. Chanel is timeless and I love timeless, I hate trends, so Chanel is time proof, never goes out of style, never wrong.
1xRun: Many of your pieces (including Trinket) feature a key and/or keyhole, are there any reasons in particular you find yourself returning to that in your work?
Kukula: I think that we are motivated by others. When there’s only one character in my painting, she is inviting the viewer to come inside her soul, move and inspire her. No one is really alone, the keys are in her back many of the time, meaning you need someone to turn it, to open it. Sometimes, she’s missing the key, hoping to find it. It’s always about the person that isn’t in the painting.
1xRun: In the last year you made the move to Philadelphia and seem to be falling in love with it, what are some of your favorite aspects of the city?
Kukula: The architecture in this city is incredible. I love to see beautiful old factories (like the building I live in) turned into loft or abandoned, occupied with wild nature. This is a city for the people who live in it, not tourists, so you can find good restaurants and a lot of culture that is major city quality but not ridiculously pricy like in NYC. This is not a city only for the rich, everyone can enjoy it. Even though I like fancy things I can’t necessarily always afford them.
1xRun: Who are some influences that you have that may not be so apparent to viewers when first looking at your work?
Kukula: I grew up in the 80’s and characters like Holly Hobbie, Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears and My Little Ponies (I hate the new 2000’s version of them!) are a big influence on my work. I have a collection of sticker albums and books of them. I use them a lot when I need to see something that makes me remember who I am, because they changed my life. When I saw them at first, I believed they were somehow real and this is why I paint.
1xRun: You had a super busy end of 2013, can you bring us up to speed on how the year wrapped up for you?
Kukula: it was insane! I had a solo show with Corey Helford and did two fashion illustration projects with Nick Knight’s SHOW studio—Paris Couture Fashion Week and Maison Margiela Perfume’s exhibition in London, Miami Scope Art Fair, La Crima Museum group show in Rome. I also joined a new gallery in NYC called AFANY that shows some of my favorite artist like Joe Sorren. I think that’s it but might have forgotten something…
1xRun: What is on your schedule for 2014?
Kukula: I’m moving to New Haven. Yes, I’m moving a lot. Still working on the book (I might have to call it The Never Ending Story, LOL), four person show in Rome in June with Dorothy Circus, I will have a few pieces at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London as part of their Italian Fashion exhibition (drawings of Valentino and Giambatista Valli), that is very exiting. And then, need to start working again on my 2015 solo show at AFANY.