Kenny Cole

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Presidential Transition 2021

The ink drawings in this collection, for me represent the end game of a brief session of artmaking that occurred between election day 2020 and Inauguration day 2021. The idea to make black and white works after painting with lots of color previously started innocently enough. I had just randomly been shuffling things around in my studio and found a pad of Sumi paper that I had purchased years ago but had never really cracked open. I'm getting so now that I like to just run through a pad of paper from beginning to end. It becomes a series of sorts, if only, in that whatever comes out of proceeding this way produces work that is all the same size or scale and on the same kind of surface. For about a decade starting in the early 90’s I had drawn a lot with Sumi ink, but it was always in conjunction with watercolor paint and on a cold press watercolor paper not on Sumi paper. I had bought this pad thinking that I might try it, but then a newfound fascination with opaque gouache watercolor paint distracted me for another decade and I never really did anything with Sumi paper until this past fall.

Though the discovery of the Sumi pad was a chance occurrence, I knew immediately that I was ready for it. For the last four years I had been creating colorful depictions of our president, hesitantly at first, but gradually, grudgingly these depictions or inclusions proliferated in my work. I felt that I could finally stop depicting the president after the election results even though I knew that things were obviously not over. “Stop the Steal” was the new animal and it created a knot in my stomach as I transitioned over from cerulean blue twitter birds, golden yellow hair do’s and fire engine red neck ties to defiant muscular characters and a revival of the flag draped coffins that I had first painted after the second Gulf War. Here were throngs of die-hard supporters, who, it felt to me, were fighting a losing battle, a battle that was starting to look like it would take us all down. It was truly depressing!

Free from primary color palette that produced all of my Trump tropes and on to parades and burly protests, the prospect of dropping back to the monochrome explorations that black ink would provide me, it felt like an opportunity to think in a less distracted and vibrantly emotional way. The election had happened, but resistance was festering. I could feel the darkness descending. We were definitely in a societal transition and the air was thick with the hot acrid breath of confederacy and supremacy. What were the aspects of this post election campaign, stripped of its red, white and blue fanfare that could be seen through the murky lens of Sumi ink? From the perspective of my drawing table it was dark, shiny and smoky.

“President Nixon Danced With the Bride” by Kenny Cole
“What Next?” by Kenny Cole
"Lisa Montgomery" by Kenny Cole
"Roar" by Kenny Cole
 
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