Ajay KURIAN

By
Photography Christian MacDonald

Published December 2, 2015

AGE: 31.

ORIGINALLY FROM: Baltimore.

CURRENTLY LIVE: Brooklyn.

GALLERY: 47 Canal, New York.

WHEN YOU FIRST CONSIDERED YOURSELF A FULL-TIME ARTIST: My first solo show in New York in 2011 at Audio Visual Arts. I let go of many things and came to understand what it meant to take a risk on beginning to make a world.

THE MOST SURPRISING REACTION TO YOUR WORK YOU’VE RECEIVED: I remember a curator once was recounting a broken, half-remembered myth about a Greek astronomer who had forsaken the polis. He explained to me that his concerns were towards the stars, not towards measly humans, towards such silly foibles. The astronomer had trained his mind to look nowhere but up. The curator then paused and looked at me and said, “But you are different—you are the astronomer in the polis.” It is the most surprising and wonderful comment I’ve received, and I hope that I live up to it.

DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A LONE ARTIST OR FEEL THAT YOU’RE WORKING IN A COMMUNITY OF PEERS? When I was not yet represented by a gallery, I knew I wanted to be represented by 47 Canal. The artists I felt an affinity towards were there; something was happening there that would be larger than all of us. That doesn’t diminish the singular voice of any one artist (myself included) that shows at the gallery, nor does it mean that the gallery is some sort of collective. It isn’t. But a lot of productive conversations happen there that give shape to one of the more interesting scenes in recent contemporary art. I have seen my voice shift and grow and become something that owes its growth to so many others, but in order to become precisely unique. So the dichotomy seems strained to me because of one adjective: lone. I am an artist with my own way of making and thinking, while also knowing that the truly singular genius is a myth meant to preserve ego, herald a star, and give the art world exactly what it wants—someone who beat everyone else. In reality, it’s never like that.

THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN ARTIST IN NEW YORK: It is very easy to get materials of nearly any kind the day you need it: from preserved reindeer moss to an Arduino board, a fog machine, customized M&Ms, epoxy clay, fiberglass, or marble—you can get it all in New York without having to kill yourself in a car.

THE WORST: It’s a very draining city, a very unforgiving city, and it’s easy to let its distraction and social noise do their worst … if you’re not careful.

FAVORITE LIVING ARTIST: I never have one single artist who I consider my favorite. I can name artists who are important to me, who demonstrate what it means to craft a hard-won vision of the contemporary world with humor, love, depravity, contradiction, and poetry: Louis C.K., Wolfgang Tillmans, and Paul Beatty.