About the Artist
Kenny Aitken is a full-time artist and writer from Shasta Lake Ca. His artistic influences range from music, comic books, and fine art.
Personal Statement about the Exhibit
Long before I had taken up the arts full time, I had a conversation with a guitar teacher about the placement of a certain rock musician on a greatest of all-time list. “The music is so full of angst” he said dismissively, as if it were wrong to express such feelings through music. I had been a follower of this musician for many years, and now, I had a new perspective to explore. I was intrigued as I listened again, realizing this man had been pouring his own suffering into his music. I had never heard him the same again.
Years later, In the midst of what would become a three-week long anxiety attack, I thought back to this conversation. A typical response to an episode would be a complete shutdown, everything stops, and the anxiety takes over. No eating. No sleeping. No focus. Fear. Angst. A perpetual feeling of dread and despair. I thought about the musician. I thought about what it meant for him to put his pain and suffering into his work. That night I went into the garage, and I went to work. I wanted to harness this energy and create something.
My vision for this series of self-portraits was an exploration of bringing intensity, emotion and raw energy into my work. I thought about what it would mean to put my own suffering into each piece. I approached each segment as if I were writing a story. Would my work be more meaningful, not only to others, but to myself? If this could help me with my anxiety, could it help others?
Kurushimu, is the Japanese word for “suffering”, or “to be tortured”. It was a fitting title for the first piece of the series, when I was at the height an episode of anxiety, and the title for the series as a whole. Each subsequent piece brings a jarring interpretation of honesty.
The first five pieces of the series were created using gesso and various types of charcoal on Bristol board. The charcoal and gesso process is raw and powerful. The gesso is tranquil and appeasing, and the charcoal is violent and abrupt. Combined they create an instinctive disarray of values and textures. The scale of each piece delivers an ominous feeling. Each mark tells its own story, of victory or defeat.
The final piece in the series titled “Father”, is the only piece in the series where I used color. I used a variation of textured brushes and a warm acrylic color palette on a textured canvas. I felt it was important to create something in this series that was representative of my every day self. Uncompromising. Sincere. Absolute.
Thank you for taking the time to view my exhibit.
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