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Kennedy Yanko - Artists - James Cohan

Photo by Jesse Frohman.

Working with paint skins and found metal, Kennedy Yanko constructs sublime sculptures and architecturally scaled installations that defy the limits of their own materiality. Steeped in the visual language of Abstract Expressionism, Action, and Color Field Painting, Yanko’s works cast off the boundaries of their medium, occupying the generative spaces between painting and sculpture, abstraction and figuration, surreal and earthbound. 


Central to Yanko’s practice is her work with paint skins – a material created by pouring many gallons of paint onto a flat surface that is lifted and shaped into a tarp-like entity once it’s nearly dry. Yanko positions these abstracted painterly gestures within the meticulously crafted metal armatures she has sourced, welded, torched, and bent. The process of marrying paint with metal is laborious, requiring both power and innovation to twist and mold the skins onto their dynamic salvaged supports. 


Despite the conspicuous solidity of Yanko’s materials, her sculptures and installations often appear weightless – as if they were on the verge of taking flight or drawing breath. By employing paint skin and metal in ways that both transmute a bodily essence and reposition the logic of gravity and form, Yanko works to expand and challenge the limits of her viewers' perception. 


This troubling of the metaphysical, an outgrowth of Yanko’s diverse philosophical interests, is at the core of the artist’s practice. A long-time follower of Daoism and an avid student of theosophic ideologies, Yanko’s cyclic repurposing of her materials alludes to the infinite possibilities for their reinterpretation through the very act of making. For Yanko, abstraction is a vehicle for encountering clarity — the pulse of intuition mixed with the thrill of a chance encounter. In the making, the artist becomes a conduit for future systems for renewal and regeneration. 


Kennedy Yanko (b. 1988, St. Louis, MO) has been included in significant exhibitions at the Albertina Modern (2024); Brooklyn Museum (2022; 2024); CFHill (2022); Parrish Art Museum (2022); Rubell Museum (2021), where she was the 2021-2022 Artist in Residence and first sculptor to hold the residency; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2019). Yanko’s work is held in major private and institutional collections such as Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria; Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY; Bunker Artspace, West Palm Beach, FL; Espacio Tacuari, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Firestorm Foundation, Stockholm, Sweden; Rubell Museum, Miami, FL; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Boston, MA; Ståhl Collection, Norrköping, Sweden; Stora Väsby Sculpture Park, Upplands Väsby, Sweden; and the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL. Yanko lives and works in Miami, FL.

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