14 Sep 2011
Nick Kushner Exhibit at Servitu: A Night of Firsts
Wednesday, September 14th, 2011 by Mich Masoch
Every event has its own special alchemy, the planned enhanced by the immediacy of the crowd. This past Saturday at Studio Servitù, the night was all about firsts, the intrigue and excitement of the new.
At his first solo exhibition, sponsored by Lip Service, New York artist Nick Kushner revealed a collection of new and as-yet-unseen works alongside some of his favorite older pieces. The degenerate and divine comingled in his creations, meticulously crafted images painted with the artist’s blood as medium. There was a distinct buzz throughout Studio Servitu as a diverse crowd of artists, performers, and art lovers alike took in the magic of Nick’s unique artistic vision.
Those familiar with the überjaded LA underground are, of course, quite familiar with the usual slow build of events, the persistent resistance to actually arriving at an event, any event, anywhere near the announced start time. Not this night. In a real and stunning first (as well as a big feather in the caps of all involved), the cynical denizens of LA’s darker corners actually showed up on time! This, certainly, should be one for the unwritten history.
Upon arrival, the experience began even before crossing the doorway to Servitù, with soft flickering candlelight illuminating the path through the hallway to the studio. Beautiful teasers of Kushner’s works greeted incomers at the door and, immediately on passing the bar, a large screen displayed video and stills of the artist’s works and fascinating imagery of his methods in creating such unusual and deeply personal art. The space filled with the hum of conversation under the throbbing strains of the music, provided by DJ Twiggy Ramirez.
Kudos to Nick Kushner, along with the co-owners of Studio Servitu (Miss Crash and Jane Jett), for converting the studio brilliantly to an impressive gallery space. Working through the exhibition, there was never any sense of crowding, despite the massive attendance, and works were staged to give all a great view from virtually all angles.
The work itself was absolutely stunning to view in person. The depth and nuance of the displayed works, as well as Kushner’s ability to capture mood and emotion and clarify them to an almost magical degree, impressed. Particularly striking were the newer works, created exclusively for the exhibit, with the stand-outs being The Devil Has Four Legs, His Satanic Majesty’s Request (a portrait of Marilyn Manson), and a beautiful and sparsely colored self-portrait entitled I Would Sell My Soul Just To See Hell. There were also a couple works of exceptional beauty and detail, created entirely in pencil, which showed the artist’s dedication to Classical techniques and surrealist imagery, particularly the lush Tlazolteotl and darker Postcard From New York. A soaring installation graced the back of the studio, employing the vials Kushner uses in his works as an impressive display of the personal nature and physical commitment of his process.
Servitù treated those fortunate enough to attend the opening of the one month viewing to another first. Those familiar with both Kushner and one of his gracious hostesses, Miss Crash, know their connections go further than art and blood. Nick runs Nachtkabarett, a site dedicated to well-researched writings on the occult and esoteric in the works of Marilyn Manson. Miss Crash, one of the world’s most renowned hook suspension artists, recently had the opportunity to capture her final performance of one-knee hook suspension as the featured co-star of Marilyn Manson’s short film, Born Villain (directed by Shia Le Beouf).
Marilyn Manson, showing his most gracious and supportive side, came out with the intent to do more than appreciate the art. Shortly after arriving, Manson took over the DJ helm from Twiggy to give everyone present a delicious suprise. We all got to be part of the world premiere of the brand new and much awaited album by Marilyn Manson, Born Villain.
One might think this would be enough, that the event was as memorable as conceivably possible. Yet, there were more surprises in store for those of us who stayed into the magical midnight hour. With a brief introduction by Miss Crash, Kushner stripped down and cut himself on-stage to sign purchased works for their new owners in his blood.
All in all, the night was a smashing success. One wonders how Kushner and the ladies of Servitù will manage to top it with the upcoming (and rather mysterious) event they are only referring to as 11.11.11. But, after the impressive opening of Les Crimes de L’Amour, there is little doubt they will find a way. Los Angeles should start marking the calendars now because, if Saturday night was any indication, it will be a night not to be missed.
For those interested in knowing more about Nick and his beautiful creations, an artist profile and interview, as well as view a gallery of his works, are featured in this week’s Lip SerVICES.
Special thanks for an exceptional night of degenerate beauty to Nick Kushner, Studio Servitù, Miss Crash, Jane Jett, and Marilyn Manson. And, of course, very special thanks to Lip Service for having the exceptional taste to sponsor the exhibition.