KCAI students Kevin Hopkins and Logan Crompton named AXA Art Prize finalists

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Artists Logan Crompton and Kevin Hopkins. // Courtesy Crompton and Hopkins

Kansas City Art Institute students Kevin Hopkins and Logan Crompton are shaking up the art world. Recently, they were both named as finalists for the prestigious AXA Art Prize. Talk about HYPE.

The two pieces will be displayed among 38 other finalists—chosen from 600 total—at the Academy of Art in New York City. One winner will receive a $10,000 prize.

We reached out to both artists about their inspiration, style, and what receiving the news was like.

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“Pay Attention Please,” oil. // Courtesy Kevin Hopkins

The Pitch: You’re one of 40 finalists among 600; how did it feel to receive that news?

Kevin Hopkins: Finding out that I was among the 40 finalists was validating. I’ve been changing and challenging the way I make art constantly, so much so that my work is drastically different than it was six months ago. Having my work change so often is a little jarring, but being recognized by the AXA Art Prize confirms that the questions I’m asking myself when making work are changing my studio practice for the better.

What does this mean for your career and future work?

I’m not sure what the achievement will mean for my career now or in the future, but I am sure that I can’t stop now. There are far too many paintings to make!

Can you tell us about your style? I read that you’d lived overseas as a kid; does this affect your work?

My style is heavily reliant on the human figure. I believe that as humans, experiences, and questions are more effectively conveyed through body language and expression. Anguish is universal, as well as sadness and anger and humility. Since we have experienced all of these feelings, we can identify them in others without the assistance of oral language. In this way, I believe that the human form transcends other forms of communication.

Revisiting the time I spent in Germany may have informed my thoughts concerning how to communicate without words. Though I was raised in Bavaria, I didn’t speak any German. To play with my non-English speaking friends, we made hand gestures to initiate “tag” or a simple conversation. I would like for my work to provoke an emotional response regardless of ethnicity or nationality.

What was your inspiration for this piece? For your work in general?

The oil painting “Pay Attention Please” references memories I share with my late mother and little brother, Tariq. Tariq and I are being lectured by my mother as our attention wanders elsewhere. The painting alludes to an emotional safety granted by childhood that allows someone to balance themselves on the edge of awareness and ignorance. Usually, my work exists between consciousness and innocence (varied depending on what time in my life the work references) and romanticizes childhood—the time I spent looking at the world “innocently.”

What do you want to say to the world with your art?

I want my artwork to tell the world that no being on Earth is omnipotent. I want my work to express the limitations of naïveté, mind, and flesh of humanity. I want to remind everyone that we are human.

Find Kevin (he/him) @beebro_irl and kevinhopkinsart.com

Crompton Logan Nudeforme

“Nude for Me,” oil, oil pastel, and acrylic. // Courtesy Logan Crompton

The Pitch: You’re one of 40 finalists among 600; how did it feel to receive that news?

Logan Crompton: I was honestly very surprised; I’d submitted my application months ago and had completely forgotten about it. Before this experience, I was always pessimistic about art competitions and never had the confidence to participate in any. Finding out I was a finalist has given me a lot of confidence and validation as an artist.

What does this mean for your career and future work?

The confidence this has given me as an artist has made it much easier to put myself out there. I plan to go to New York in November to see my piece in the New York Academy of Art’s exhibition for the finalists. In the meantime, I’m looking for more competitions and scholarships for artists. I’m hoping this year to also do a group show with fellow finalist, Kevin Hopkins. I really want to take this opportunity to beef up my CV, make connections, and gain some needed experience as a practicing artist, as I only have two years of school left at KCAI.

I read a tweet where you said you were “acting on impulse” for newer work—I love this idea, haha. Can you tell us about your style?

I would say my style of working is largely intuitive. My work currently explores self-portraiture, which allows me to use myself as a standard in which I physically explore and experiment with chosen materials and mediums. Self-portraiture lets me work in a way that is freeing, as working intuitively is the truest form of self-expression and therefore the best way to convey my character to an audience or viewer. I work mostly in oil and mix in elements of other mediums such as oil pastel, spray paint, acrylic, and collage. Working in such a way allows the paint and other materials to speak for themselves and I often am just responding to the quality of each mark that has been made.

What was your inspiration for this piece? For your work in general?

My inspiration for the piece as well as many of my works was evaluating gender expression and sexuality through the lens of the male gaze. I was looking at the art history canon and the difference between portraits considered to be nude and those considered to be naked.

The presence of a partially clothed figure within art history typically falls within the category of naked and was not as accepted as nude works. Nude works were generally more innocent in nature as it was a sign of unawareness and therefore separate from the sexual connotations of the naked body. The presence of clothing within a work suggests being caught in a moment of vulnerability or undressing, and has a more shameful or enticing association. I was combatting these notions in this work and was exploring the relationship between a piece and its audience.

What do you want to say to the world with your art?

I think my art wants the materials to speak to an audience in a way that I can’t. I believe my art is meant to speak to the world in a way that alerts your senses. I don’t have a particular message beyond the exploration of materials and pushing the boundaries on what they can do and mean to any particular person. I much prefer when someone sees my work and has a completely different take than my intended message, as it allows me to learn more about myself but also about perception as a whole.

Find Logan (they/them) @logeymakesart and on Twitter

The 600 original submissions included paintings, drawings, and prints, and were selected by an Exhibition Jury comprised of: Ian Alteveer, Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Harry Cooper, Senior Curator and Head of Modern Art at the National Gallery of Art; Rita Gonzales, Head of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; and Ashley James, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.⁠

Categories: Art