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The Storytelling Art of Kris Knight

Kris Knight, Loose Lips Sink Ships (Arthur), 2013, Private Collection. Detail.

Contemporary Art

The Storytelling Art of Kris Knight

The narrative of a painting can be interpreted on any level by anyone, and the dreamy portraits painted by the Canadian contemporary artist Kris Knight are a great example. The calming strokes of pastel whisper stories on the canvas with a sense of ambiguity and freedom that made this contemporary artist a modern day storyteller.

kris knigh in clover
Kris Knight, In Clover, 2018, Galerie Nicolas Robert, Montreal.

Knight paints characters in isolated settings, focusing the composition on the intensity of the characters’ expression and gaze, creating a mysterious atmosphere. The background floral patterns, with the contrasting warm and cool colors composition, set the mood of the paintings, building layers to create dimension and focus attention on the facial expression and mood of the characters.

kris knight
Kris Knight, Loose Lips Sink Ships (Arthur), 2013, Private Collection.

The portraits of androgynous young men, so beautifully executed, show how the face can tell stories, how powerful can be a look to hide secrets or reveal confessions without saying a word. The perfect porcelain look, almost ghostly, recalls the softer palette historically found in neoclassical portraiture of the 17th century, but with contemporary subjects. The pastel palette paints different shades of youth, innocence, eroticism and a sense of sensual ambiguity.

Kris Knight
Kris Knight, Soft Pink, 2013, Private Collection.

As a good storyteller, Kris Knight created collections like different chapters of a novel. In his Tragic Kingdom series, characters put on airs of regality to mask the fact that they were socially and economically the opposite. With Secrets Are The Things We Grow, the characters represented the notion that secrets have roots, they grow with time and sometimes take over.

Kris Knight
Kris Knight, The Performer, 2016, Private Collection.

The visual narrative and storytelling art of Kris Knight inspired Gucci’s autumn men’s 2014 collection and sponsored the exhibition Smell the Magic in Miami, at which were present all of Knight’s essence: young men, dreamy pastel tones and boundaries of sexual and asexual identities.

Find out more about the artist at krisknight.com


Maria is a journalist from the end of the world based in Milan, she believes that art belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

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