This week’s studio: Kari Cholnoky; East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Kari Cholnoky is not a minimalist. “Conceptually, I believe that more is more,” she told me. With her colorful, boisterous paintings, Cholnoky aims to examine our relationship to objects by using a wide variety of materials, like fur, polyurethane, wigs, and sex toys.
Cholnoky, 27, has been working in her Brooklyn home and studio for a year. Before moving to New York, she got her M.F.A. in painting from Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. “I really needed grad school,” she told me. “It was like a two-year monastery where I read a ton of books, made a ton of work, and asked myself a ton of questions. There’s no way I could have done it in New York City—you’re not able to take risks like you can when nobody’s paying attention.” She currently supplements her income as an artist by working as a studio assistant for painters Joe Bradley and Chris Martin.
At any given time, Cholnoky said, she is working on 10 to 15 paintings. “I’m hyperconscious when I work,” she said. “For me, painting is almost like achieving a meditative state. Yoga doesn’t work for me, but working myself to death does.” In her current body of work, she is restraining her color palette in order to experiment in other ways, like incorporating new materials and trying out unusual compositions. “When a new material comes into my practice,” she said, “I’m so enamored by it that I think its perfect just the way it is, and then after a certain amount of time, I become discontented by the rawness of the thing. It’s been three years that I’ve been using fur at this point and now the fur is basically obliterated. There used to be a softness, but that’s over.”
Cholnoky’s work is currently featured in a solo exhibition at David Klein Gallery in Detroit and will be appearing in a group exhibition curated by Melissa Brown at Safe Gallery in Brooklyn on February 19. Below, a look around Cholnoky’s workspace.
ALL PHOTOS: KATHERINE MCMAHON