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London-based artist Kevin Francis Gray's first exhibition with Haunch of Venison opens in New York
Kevin Francis Gray, Heavy Arms, 2012. Bronze, 55 x 20 in. (139.7 x 50.8 cm). Courtesy the artist and Haunch of Venison New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- Haunch of Venison is showing London-based artist Kevin Francis Gray’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition showcases several of Gray’s porcelain, bronze and marble sculptures that merge elements of both classicism and the sculpted human form with an aesthetic that contextualises the work firmly within the visual landscape of contemporary society.

Drawn heavily from both popular culture and the gritty reality of an uncompromised urban life, Gray’s subjects are people from the neighborhood surrounding his studio in London who he approached in chance meetings on the street. Gray frequently works with his subjects on multiple pieces, forming a lasting relationship between the artist and sitter. Depicted in classical form with materials often reserved for immortalizing grand historical figures, Gray’s work injects dignity and admiration into an often marginalized and artistically unobserved paradigm of society. “There is a gravitas to Kevin’s work,” said Robert Goff, Director of Haunch of Venison. “The traditional nature of Kevin’s sculptures is exactly what makes them radical and discomforting in today’s art world.”

The exhibition includes the life-size Carrera marble Ballerina, veiled in fabric that highlights her achingly disciplined body and unnaturally arched feet as she stands en pointe. The drapery, which also covers her face, clings to her frame and is reminiscent of the expressive eroticism of Hellenistic sculpture. The recognisable grace and élan attributed to Degas’ ballerinas and Rodin’s dancers is parried with an acute sense of discomfort evident in Gray's Ballerina.

A polished bronze version of Gray’s Temporal Sitter reveals one of the artist’s most frequent themes, the emotional and physical challenge of dependency in its varied forms. As the title suggests his sitter is between two distinct phases of his life. Also on view are a group of 12 porcelain heads titled Twelve Chambers, a reference to hip hop group Wu Tang Clan. Gray was particularly selective with his subjects for Twelve Chambers. “Porcelain is such a delicate medium and the fragility of these characters was equally important to the work,” he explained. The resulting group includes a variety of subjects dealing with issues from bipolarity and drug dependency the idealized standards of beauty. Each bust is rough and highly textured, but also reveals the brittle nature of the medium with visible hairline fractures and cracks throughout.

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