On the Cover

On the Cover August 2009: Kent Christensen

By Staff

Jutland, 2008
Oil on linen
36 x 36 in / 92 x 92 cm
Courtesy of Eleven Fine Art.

Kent Christensen’s oil paintings of sweets and other culinary delights investigate cultural and personal associations with food, as well as the tradition of still-life painting. Christensen was born to a Mormon family that adhered to strict prohibitions against such vices as smoking and drinking. In their place, Mormons often indulge in sugar – an indulgence so zealous that the artist argues that sugar is “Mormon heroin”. Christensen’s paintings function as both celebration and satire of this “Mormon folly” for sweets. Mouthwatering and alluring, the images also evoke feelings of overindulgence; they highlight America’s rising obesity levels and cast a critical eye over a nation whose appetite for sugar is never sated.

Christensen’s paintings examine personal, emotional and psychological associations with food, as well as re-contextualize the power of food imagery in art through the ages. The subjects have been arranged in specific ways that reference modern and classical art. Jutland (2007) associates traditional landscape with an oversized icecream, creating an atmosphere strongly reminiscent of surrealist René Magritte’s works. Likewise, Green Jell-O (2006) brings to mind minimalist sculpture à la Donald Judd. Personal and spiritual icons are sometimes included or hidden in the pictures, creating food totems that evoke a sense of ritual and intimacy.

Kent Christensen was born in Los Angeles in 1957. He lives and works in New York City and Sundance, Utah.



This article was originally published on July 30, 2009.