Antone Könst : Casual Magic
March 27 – April 25, 2020
Opening reception: March 27, 2020 | 6 – 8 PM
Each Modern is pleased to present “Antone Könst: Casual Magic” the artist’s first exhibition with the gallery, and in Asia. The New York-based artist uses painting, sculpture, and glyphic tablets to depict experiences in light, and the latent potential within everyday moments, with deep roots in modern art history and a passion for oriental philosophy. These works of mythic and folk images come to represent the power found in quotidian rituals. Through recollections of daily walks in a park, a ballad to the moon, or odes to faith, Könst shares with us the aspects of the banal that are in fact the most captivating.
Könst’s approach begins with a trope. Compelled on some personal level, an image sticks with him; a juggler, a monkey, a goat. The familiar and at times cliché images, which are informed by archival sources and pop culture references, are altered and reimagined to suit the variety of mediums in Könst’s practice. A juggler becomes a repeated idea, pulling into its orbit the movements of the sun, the stillness of time, the birth of a child.
A part of this exhibition is composed of plaster and resin tablets which straddle painting and object. The thick molded works are shaped, colored, carved on, and imbedded with a mélange of materials. Their pastoral subjects often call to mind frescos, though unlike the figurative paintings, these glyphic tablets possess abstract forms and qualities. Untitled, 2017, an earlier tablet composed of resin, plastic, cardboard, and wood features script-like forms across its surface. In the upper right side of the work cardboard shapes form a sun sitting on a horizon. This motif is transferred to painting in later works like Sunbather, 2020 and Moon Rising, from Assateague Island, 2019. Through these earlier glyphic works we are able to see the repetition of symbols.
Shown alongside these wall hanging works are selection of sculptures. Könst’s sculptural works come from the same place conceptually as his painting practice, though allow for a directness and a more experimental mode of creation. These sculptural works are site specific and made uniquely for “Casual Magic”, and create a deeper sense of connection to the context of Taipei.
“Casual Magic” also features a new genre of painting in Könst’s practice, the landscape. Inspired by a camping trip with his wife, and Monet’s immersive water lily paintings, these new landscapes are without the living creatures so often found in his works, and instead personify their tree trunk subjects.
The prevalence of animals found in Könst’s work serves as a nod towards aspects of Asian art he draws from in his archival digging. This is most clear in the paintings Monkey, 2019 and Small Monkey, 2017-2018 which reference Mizaru, one of the Three Wise Monkeys from the Japanese pictorial maxim, embodying the proverbial principle "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.” Where the Western Art Canon utilized animal forms as signifiers of class and property, animals in Chinese and Japanese traditional art often reference parables, the mythological and the spiritual.
Throughout “Casual Magic” figures are shown basking in the glow of some form of light. Whether it’s the moon hanging between two trees romantically, or a sunbather in a moment of beatific contentment and joy, a prevailing sense of affection can be read across the frozen moments Könst creates. Could this be anything but casual magic?
About the artist
Antone Könst was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1987. Könst currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from The California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, CA in 2011 and received his MFA from the Yale School of Art, New Haven in 2014. In 2018 Könst received the Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship. He received the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Emerging Artist Grant in 2017 and the Fondation des Etats-Unis Fellowship. Paris, France in 2014. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include ‘Antone Könst, Love & Fear’, Tilton Gallery, New York, NY (2019); ‘Dawn, and Other Spheres, Artist Curated Projects’, Los Angeles, CA (2018); ‘Loose Parts, Antone Könst and Clayton Schiff’, Fisher Parrish Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2018); ‘Second Nature’, Radical Abacus, Santa Fe, NM (2017); ‘March, Meander, Antone Könst and Bridget Mullen’, Hometown Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (2017); ‘PwrFlwr’, Fondation des EtatsUnis, Paris, France (2015); and ‘Ctrl Alt Shadow, Antone Könst and Jean-Baptiste Lenglet’, Atelier David Douard, Paris, France (2015). Recent group exhibitions include ‘Wirrwarr’, Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY (2019); ‘Summer Soup’, Three Four Three Four, Brooklyn, NY (2019); ‘Lucky Draw’, Sculpture Center, Queens, NY (2019); ‘Big Ringer’, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY (2019); ‘Hi Friends’, Disturb the Neighbors, New York, NY (2019); ‘Socrates Annual’, Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens, NY (2018); and ‘Works on Paper’, Beers Gallery, London, Great Britain (2018). In Spring 2020, Könst will be creating a monumental public sculpture for the Lighthouse Works Public Art Commission, Fishers Island, NY.
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