Painted portraiture is almost a rarity these days. Sure, there are tons done in the abstract, but photo-realistic work done in a contemporary setting isn't at all common.
That exclusion isn't surprising, considering contemporary art has always had a problem embracing portraiture outside of photography. And at the turn of the century modern art proudly espoused a new way of thinking that moved away from centuries of work based on the classical.
Enter Kris Knight, the 34-year-old Toronto-based artist who has the Art Basel crowds buzzing with his solo exhibition, "Smell the Magic," presented by Spinello Projects and Gucci. The show, based firmly in a contemporary take on classical portraiture, has all of Knight's signatures: young men, dreamy pastels, and oozing sexuality. Knight fully embraces 18th-century aesthetics and applies them to his work. (If Knight had been born in the time of Marie Antoinette, he would most certainly have been the royal portrait painter.)
Cultist spoke with Knight about his 18th-century influence, his obsession with youth, and his color inspiration.