Kent Christensen playfully satirises modern life, where indulgence is the new god. Icons were once the exclusive domain of religion and royalty, but today they are everywhere and provide the visual backdrop to our world.
Double-Double Still Life (2015) places a popular contemporary subject in a traditional format. The famous California fast-food establishment In-N-Out Burger’s popular “Double-Double” burger is depicted in two heaping servings on the restaurant’s signature red plastic tray in an altar-like niche. The distant window view is adapted from a detail of Giovanni Battista Moroni’s Portrait of Canon Bartolomeo Bonghi.
Christensen applies an iconic status to his oversized ice-cream cones, milkshakes and candy that emerge from landscapes to become absurd, surreal objects. In Sundance Drumstick (2012) a giant drumstick ice cream floats over a mountain landscape like an object lifted from a roadside billboard. Typical of his Magritte-inspired works, the image takes on sensational, devotional and supernatural qualities and is both beautiful and puzzling.
The colourful and alluring qualities of candy and other sugar based foods make them enticing visual subjects, masking their true unhealthy nature, and provide a vivid visual metaphor for our times. In his tongue-in-cheek embrace of iconic American sugar-based foods, his paintings pay homage to altarpieces, advertising, Pop Art, and minimalism among other themes. Driven by chasing satisfactions that can never be fulfilled, Christensen’s work employs an inescapable decadence of consumerist culture.
Kent Christensen was born in Los Angeles in 1957. He lives and works in New York City and Sundance, Utah. Select exhibitions include Kent Christensen: 30 Year Career Retrospective, Woodbury Art Museum, Orem, Utah (2013), Bad for You (curated by Beth DeWoody), Shizaru, London (2012), Sensory Overload, Eleven, London (2011).