Artist Interview:
Kyle Kogut
Kyle's booth is located in the very back of the high school cafeteria where the exceedingly popular Baltimore Publications and Multiples Fair takes place every year. To reach his booth is to navigate a massive maze crammed with a hundred or so other artists' wares stacked on tables, racks, walls, and columns. His demeanor is at a seemingly constant calm, but never cold, he's a friendly guy. His work speaks for him, and it speaks loud and clear. It's Roman Catholic-meets-heavy metal. Demons are a common theme. There are lots of detailed moments to take in from his prints and drawings, and the steady process at which he works can almost be felt, despite the wild imagery meant to provoke otherwise. Since that small encounter in Baltimore, miles from where we both live (him: Philadelphia, myself: New York City), a very fluid, highly anticipated collaboration was born. It has been one of my personal highlights of 2017.
Michelle wears the Kyle Tee
shot by Vivian Loh

KYLE KOGUT

LOWLOW NYC: You experiment with drawing these hairy, demonic hands quite often... what inspires them?

KYLE KOGUT: The demon hands are a reference to a cast of characters I use in my paintings and drawings called Friends. They're derived from art historical archetypes for the Other, such as the faun, wildman and satyr while also referencing depictions of demons, devils and fiends. I often quote their poses from the Northern Renaissance masters such as Hieronymus Bosch, or the Minotaur of Picasso’s Vollard Suite. They also act as a hyper-artist stereotype, narcissistic drunkards that paint and drink as they please. Much like Guston’s hooded figures and lima bean heads, they also serve as pseudo-self portraits.

Also seen in a lot of your work are references to religion, specifically symbols of Christianity. How has religion/spirituality impacted your life?

I was raised Roman Catholic, attended mass every Sunday and played guitar in the Church band. In this one stained glass window at my Church growing up, I was always more attracted to how Lucifer was depicted as a dragon being conquered by the saint than the saint himself. While attending Catholic school I discovered horror films and heavy metal and became obsessed with dreadful imagery. I had a spiritual awakening at a young age and realized that I wasn’t drinking the kool-aid, so after a few terrible years in that environment I left and had a complete split with the church. I now use other imagery from my upbringing, elevating symbology from the automotive industry as relics to be worshiped as gods through an occult guise. My work comes from a very American Roman Catholic perspective, presenting an antithesis of the “In God We Trust” of a nationalist identity. Though many aspects of my religious upbringing, such as constant balance of good versus evil, imposed self-reflection, and a questioning of life’s meaning, still have an immense influence on my life and art.

Favorite medium to work in at the moment? Why?

While I do a lot of sculptural work and have been exploring performance, at the end of the day I still consider myself a drawer. I love sharp pencils, tiny brushes and ink, and micron pens.

You often gravitate towards dark or muted tones in your work. How do you choose the colors your use?

Its often a very intuitive process and I tend to let the work tell me what needs to be done and what colors to use. My work utilizes a lot of black, referencing its use as an occult color, heavy metal aesthetic and the graphic definition it embodies in emblems and logos. I also draw inspiration from the visual language of William Blake, Goya and the Northern Renaissance, where color is used in a muddied and fascinating way.

One famous person (dead or alive) that you'd like to meet?

It would be amazing to meet Alejandro Jodorowsky because he's a genius and a madman.

Best way to overcome creative block?

When I’m in a rut I try to power through it. I work on multiple pieces at the same time so I jump to another thing I’m messing around with or start something new. The past year I’ve been working on a series of 11” x 15” drawings in ink and graphite that I work on in between larger projects. It’s a good structure to work within and it takes a lot of the what-ifs out of the scenario. These smaller works often become larger drawings or other ideas. I also look through books or do research online. When all else fails I’ll watch a movie that’s been recommended to me or get outside.

Crinkle-cut fries or curly fries?

Tough one. Curly fries.

Find Kyle at www.kylekogut.com and @kylekogut

kyle kogut