Pure hurriedness draws you into Alex Kuno's fairytale-themed illustrations, but the elves and castles, anatomically-correct organs, plants that look like animals, and animals that look like plants, all floating inside blank white paper backgrounds, are what keep you staring. When humans appear in Kuno's work, they have the dazed expressions and wide-set, pale faces of medieval paintings. Their environments are clothed in the colorful, yet muted, palette of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights, and convey the same frenzied, hungry energy that has attracted viewers of the iconic painting for hundreds of years.
Kuno creates this aesthetic with an alchemical mix of graphite, watercolor paint, ink, imitation gold leaf, and paper on wooden panels. "I mount the paper on the panels, then put the gold leaf on in an asymmetrical organic shape so it looks kind of like a melting or breaking frame," The St. Paul, Minnesota artist tells Creators. "The composition of the figures are based on symbols like swastikas or crosses or stars, then I make up the narratives as I go along and try to improvise as much as I can. Once I have a finished drawing in pencil I'll add layers of watercolor and acrylic paint, then refine it with ink, markers, pastels, or whatever I have laying around. Then I'll seal it with cold wax medium and that gives it kind of a weird effect."
Archenemy Arts recently showed Kuno's latest work at a show called PULP, highlighting artists who work on paper. For the occasion the artist donated the proceeds of a limited run of prints to the ACLU. See more of Alex Kuno's work here, and find your next favorite artist on the Creators Instagram feed.