One to Watch

Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray was born in 1982 in Germany and is a graduate of  the Weissensee School of Art Berlin, where he studied with the internationally acclaimed artist Katharina Grosse. Working with both oil and spray paint, Kevin’s works often possess an unidentifiable light-source. He depicts neglected scenes of nature and abandoned architectural structures; poppies, bridges, stairs, and islands are all recurring motifs in his paintings. Despite the lingering mist that seems to permeate his compositions, there is nonetheless a luminous quality to his color palette. Kevin has exhibited extensively in Berlin, and is exhibiting his work for the first time in China in 2014.

What are the major themes you pursue in your work?
The themes that I pursue are drug production, social alienation, and the destruction of nature. I often paint landscapes and cityscapes that are populated with decaying trees and abandoned and graffitied buildings, stairs, and bridges. Sometimes I fill my landscapes with red poppy flowers; if you look closely, you can see the cut open balls of the flower that produce opium, which can then be processed into heroin.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
I was once given advice by the German artist, Norbert Schwontkowsky, whose work I greatly admire. He once said “Leave away what is not your picture and you will have your picture.” He also said, “Go on working.”

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I definitely like to listen to music while working in my shared studio space. In the shared space there is an old vinyl-jukebox often playing Schlager, Reggae, Ska, and cheesy 80’s punk music. Otherwise, we listen to whatever is on the radio.

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
My first choice would be an etching by Goya from his Disaster of War series, perhaps The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters. For me, Goya is the C.G. Jung or Sigmund Freud of the visual arts, as he explored the depths and fears of the human psyche through his artwork.

Who are your favorite writers?
Recently I’ve been reading a lot by Herrndorf, Bulgakow, Auster, Nwaubani, Remarque, Murakami, Dostojewski, and Camus.