Brian Kokoska: 30 Under 35

Q&A | Nov 2016 | BY Kat Herriman

Brian Kokoska likes to act on instinct. Repeating symbols and scenarios, he has developed a ritualistic approach to both his studio and exhibition practice. His solo shows are often monochromatic (well, at least the walls and floor). These extreme environments seem tailor-made to Kokoska’s figurative paintings, which often depict pastel monsters. This fall, Kokoska branched out a bit—painting the walls of his Ashes/Ashes solo show in alternating sherbet colors.

Brian Kokoska

Kokoska’s Poison IV, installation view, Valentin, Paris, 2015.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? “Never let anyone fuck you over”

What are you working towards? I’ll have new work with American Medium at NADA Miami Beach. I’m also in the inaugural show at COMA in Sydney and have a solo project with L’inconnue in Montreal opening January 2017.

If you could trade with anyone who would it be? Probably Michael Jackson or Mike Kelley. But they are both dead. I really love the pencil drawings that Jackson made throughout his life… They are super beautiful and eerie. Most people don’t know about them. I’d also love to have a Mike Kelley frog painting.

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Kokoska’s Klonopin Kelly (She Feels Nothing), 2015.

If you’re not in the studio, where are you? At my house in Hell’s Kitchen or traveling for projects.

In your practice, what comes naturally to you and what do you have to force? The individual works themselves come naturally but the larger concept or installation as a whole is a little more forced. Well not really forced… I would say, planned out.

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Kokoska’s Suicide Harlequin (Nipplehead), 2016.

How do you know what you’ve made is good? You never really know I guess. I always try to put something out there that I’m happy with at the time. Sometimes that feeling stays and sometimes it’s fleeting.

Ode to Hans-Ulrich Obrist, do you have any unrealized projects? I feel like I have a lot of em. I really wanna organize an exhibition in a graveyard. But we haven’t found the right one yet.

I’ve also wanted to do an installation at Kent Institution in British Columbia. It’s a maximum security prison that my uncle served a lot of time in. It’s in the middle of nowhere and the street it’s located on is called “Cemetery Road.”

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