All work and photographs © Kennet Lekko
About the artist
2014 – 2018 UDK Berlin, Fine Arts, MA
2012 -2014 Estonian Academy of Arts, Painting, BA
For an up to date CV including exhibitions, please visit the artist's website
About the work
Kennet Lekko is an up-and-coming young artist from Tallinn, Estonia finishing his master’s degree at UDK Berlin in the class of professor Thomas Zipp. While still in his mid-twenties, he has already carried out a considerable amount of exhibitions at significant venues in both Berlin and Tallinn.
Lekko’s paintings are witty. They feature a wide spectrum of motifs ranging from ancient mythology and pornography to childhood icons of the 1990s. The artist deliberately chooses to combine those unlikely images in ways that challenge our expectations of taste in a classical sense. With an approach of youthful cheekiness he uses the method of painted collage to blur the boundaries between high and low culture. His distinctive visual language marked by neon colors, playfulness and triviality is clearly referring to the colorful pop art of the 1960s as well as the vast imagery of the internet with its GIFs and memes. Correspondingly musical influences in the form of 1990s hip hop and the far more recent vaporwave movement are an inspiration for sampling and mixing tackiness with tastefulness and the timeworn with the contemporary.
His works of art can be understood as painterly medleys of classical (art) history and juvenile icons of today’s online world. Using the traditional genre of painting, he takes those images from an electronic screen and brings them back to an analogue world. Accordingly, the imagery by itself is not the point of departure for the painting process. The artist transposes the web pictures onto exotic fabrics from Tallinn markets stretched on wooden panels. On those fabrics objects of everyday life combined with classical figures are juxtaposed with catchy phrases in internet typos inspired by the designs of amateur homepages or shops. This creates moments of irritation for a beholder looking for sensitive brushwork and poetic approaches in painting.
Lekko’s works seem almost too fabricated to be considered as paintings, yet they are handmade down to the last detail. This gives rise to the question of the significance of personhood and craftsmanship in an increasingly digitalized society. Lekko’s paintings, while superficial at first glance, refer beyond questions of art and tackle processes of self-discovery, -identity and the ostensible self-centeredness of a “Me Me Me Me”generation, which is also the title of one of his 2016 series.
When being asked if he is a pop artist (a question one is bound to answer with his visual style) he replies that he will be once his works become popular.
All this makes him an artist everyone should keep their eyes on in the coming years.
Text by Kim Mildebrath, Berlinische Galerie 2017