KK Kozik, GROVE oil on linen, 36" x 30"
EP: Your treatment of nature is very similar to the Romantic painters, where the human being is something small and almost insignificant in front of magnificent nature. In your paintings, except for that one with the suggested women inside the cave, nature always wins.
KKK: Well, it is either way. To me it is something more psychological: when I am not feeling very happy the nature wins, and when I feel happy man wins. I did a lecture recently and I started out with the painter Caspar David Friedrich. He painted these single figures stating big questions in front of nature. Then it moved on to the American painters of landscapes, and more specifically painters that traveled to South America. In Ecuador, where I have been going pretty often, nature is weighed more powerfully than here and there are huge scary mountains that put you back in your place. You know, all these people in New York City, in Wall Street, they feel so powerful just because they have money . . . it would be useless, it would mean nothing in those situations.
EP: The two paintings that hang at the entrance of the gallery are the only ones with urban landscapes. You have incorporated nature, the tigers and the naked couples respectively. But it is a repressed nature. It is about the nature in the city.
KKK: It is actually a re-examination of an idea I had before; I want it to do it better and bigger. The painting with the scene of naked couples on a stage, I was thinking of a couple of places where people have been naked on stage during the '60s and '70s, even on Broadway. My painting is more a night scene, a summer scene in Brooklyn, like "Midsummer's Night Dream" of Shakespeare where things are a little bit threatening but magical. Both paintings have the urbanthat is why they kind of go togetherbut it doesn't really fit so tightly with the theme of the other ones. For me, it has been really hard because I am working with the symbolic now, and it is hard to get close to the home, and I don't want to be captured in realism because I am not a realist. But I am trying to get close to the home in the sense of asking what are the adequate questions for our environment. Although all the imaginary things come from my experiences, and the experiences which are portrayed in art historical paintings or Tarzan movies or cartoons that deal with jungle.
EP: How long have you been painting these kind of landscapes?
KKK: Probably the first time was around '93. And I remember that, you prefer less subtle things. It is very fun to paint landscape just in terms of the action of moving the brush and start doing all those lines. The human stuff is much more difficult, you know, when it doesn't look right, and takes forever.
EP: So what's next?
KKK: The next really big painting is going to be a re-examination of these natural phenomenon in Virginia called "The Bridge", a huge landscape formation that is a bridge; it is spontaneously like that. In one time it was considered next to Niagara Falls, the second biggest natural wonder on the continent. In February I have a show in Virginia so I will go and see it.
Brooklyn, New York 2000