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 Thug Life, 1995

Skud Fish #26

Skud Fish # 23

Skud Fish #19



Skippy The Wonder Boy

kiely jenkins
a portfolio

by Carlo McCormick

Kiely Jenkins mondo sculpture, which rose
to prominence in the early `80s partly due 

to its association with the emergent

Graffiti/Hip Hop culture of New York City,

continues to offer up an uncanny, sly 

mix of the bizarre and ordinary. In his 

current exhibition, Jenkins returns from 

a nearly decade-long hiatus with his 

absurdist wit and parodistic powers 

of observation as keen as ever. 

In a succession of five solo shows at 

the seminal Fun Gallery from 1981 to 1985, 

Jenkins grafted cute and comical anatomical 

exaggerations onto the gritty and familiar 

to create a zany world of glorious 

grotesques that, if only by proximity and 

close friendship, somehow seemed to share a 

similar territory with the array of 

graffiti art legends for which that gallery 

was famous. However unlikely this 

association may have been, the ground they 

do share is that of the streets. In this 

native New Yorker's moody, evocative urban 

noire, the city, its denizens and its 

attitude offer a cool edge, part Hopper, 

part DeChirico, to his ribald slacker 


Central to Jenkins' humorous pleasure in 

the grotesque is his esthetically 

subversive love of the low brow. An act of 

portraiture, whether the subjects of his 

art are animal hunting trophies, drooling 

dogs, Hall of Shame busts, disco fish tanks 

or street corner denizens, Kiely's is an 

art of fantastic caricature. The radical 

distortion he subjects his human and animal 

characters to is an outrageous kind of 

vulgar visual dementia that goes beyond the 

antagonistic representations of political 

and social caricature into the utter 

physical abandon more typical of Tex Avery, 

Harvey Kurtzman, Weirdos or Ed "Big Daddy" 

Roth. Primarily playful in nature, Jenkins' 

appeal is precisely that of those wonderful 

perversions of taste as are conjured in the 

anarchistic imaginations of twisted 

children. Redolent of down-home folk 

vernacular, there's something eerily 

nostalgic about the fleshy exuberance of 

his figures in contrast to the austerity of 

Japanimation so prevalent today. As for 

this preference, Jenkins concedes, "I like 

something with more meat and drool."

Livestock Gallery, 237 Eldridge St., NYC, Apr. 6-May 12, 1996