Kye Christensen-Knowles’ ‘Short Cuts III’: An emerging artist’s auspicious rise

Jack Lehane

A distinctively unconventional group exhibition debuted at LOMEX gallery in Tribeca on March 17. It includes works from New York’s rising contemporary artist Kye Christensen-Knowles,

“Short Cuts III” features artwork from Christensen-Knowles, Rasoul Ashtray and Andrea Fourchy— but only one of each at a time.

Thirteen new works by Christensen-Knowles are on display in the exhibition until April 8.

Owner of LOMEX Alexander Shulan and the artist first met at a gathering in New York several years ago. The two have since formed a close bond over their shared passion for esoteric art history references and have worked on several shows together, including a presentation within the “Frame” Section for Frieze’s New York Fair in 2022.

In “Short Cuts III,” Christensen-Knowles’ versatility in different medium and in references are on full display.

One part of the show features the artist’s departure from the graphic alien figures featured in his past exhibitions, and instead highlights intense images of human figures, infused with subdued queer-coded art history and internet culture references.

The works pay homage to artists such as Paul Cadmus, known for paintings combining elements of eroticism and social critique in a style often referred to as “magic realism,” along with a member of Cadmus’ cadre Jared French. Pavel Tchelitchew, an artist known for his portraits of the avant-garde and homosexual elite in Paris during the 1920s, is also referenced throughout the show.

In other parts of the exhibition, some of the artist’s paintings depict figures portrayed under a matted frame. Other works are individually titled “Painting” in reference to the artist Francis Bacon, who is known for his surrealist works focused on themes of the biomorphic.

The artist’s ability to straddle the lines between artistic movements and traditions is evident in this eclectic mix of references and styles — challenging the onlooker to reevaluate their preconceived notions of what art is and can be. This incorporation of varying inspirations prove his skill and creativity, producing a coherently unique body of work.

A hallmark of Christensen-Knowles’ craft are his custom frames, which he collaborates on with a New York-based framer. “Short Cuts III” exchanges the classic gold frames characteristic of his past pieces for uniquely colored frames, complimenting the size, structure and themes of the new works.

The exhibition also includes an implicit motif of intimacy and depth. The depiction of an oriental rug appears in three of Christensen-Knowles’ 13 works. Interestingly, the actual rug used in his studio also makes an appearance. It represents the artist’s unique ability to incorporate personal elements into his art.

“Short Cuts III” is a testament to Christensen-Knowles’ emergence as a distinctive presence among his counterparts. His versatile use of mediums and references, attention to detail in custom framing and use of personal motifs make this exhibition a must-see for art lovers and collectors alike.