Jonathan LeVine Projects debuts work by

Kumkum Fernando at VOLTA NY

MAY 18 – 22, 2022

Jersey City, New Jersey, May 5, 2022 – Jonathan LeVine Projects is pleased to announce its programming for VOLTA NY, a presentation in booth 204 featuring work by Sri-Lankan artist Kumkum Fernando in what will be his debut exhibition in New York City. 

Kumkum draws inspiration from the past to create fantastical visions of the future: mighty robots, flying contraptions and mystical beings. His aesthetic is inspired by objects he collects and places he documents, particularly those in Asian and from indigenous peoples. These traditional objects – such as window patterns from ancient temples in Tibet, jewelry, rugs and masks – are given new life as part of his cosmic monoliths.

The characters that emerge are equal parts action figures and idols. This new body of work is based on personal memories and people in Kumkum’s life. For example, Jackfruit Jenny is an imaginary character the artist and his son made up while playing near a jackfruit tree in Sri Lanka. Rosy Anne is the nickname his grandmother gave his mother. Created with exceptional craftsmanship, each piece is made up of 103 to 290 individual parts. 

It takes months to produce each intergalactic figure, from inception to creation. Kumkum’s illustrations and blueprints are rendered into individual building blocks, which are hand-sanded and constructed in a labor-intensive process. Color and silk screen designs are added to bring vibrancy and depth to the blocks. The artist creates custom colors with references ranging from colors found in nature to graphic novels. The pieces are finished with a high-gloss lacquer, using traditional Vietnamese techniques. Finally, each of the sculptures is given its own lyrical origin story written by Kumkum. 

In addition to sculptures, the booth will feature six limited edition prints on wood. The first 50 visitors to the booth will receive a giveaway of a limited-run poster that’s signed and numbered by the artist. 

Kumkum Fernando was born in Sri Lanka, the son of an antiques and curiosities collector, and is currently based in Vietnam. As far back as he can remember, Kumkum has been a collector as well: of stones, spoons, statues, ostrich eggs, and other ancient marvels and treasures. Thousands of years of Sri Lankan culture inform Kumkum’s art, from ornate temple paintings to folktales of portals that connect us to a vast underworld of gods, giants and demons. He proudly derives inspiration from this heritage, bridging fine art and design with a deep appreciation for ancient and traditional forms. Kumkum’s creations have been featured at the Singapore Art Museum and the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in numerous publications including HYPEBEAST and designboom. In 2022, he has his debut online exhibition, Temples, Gods and Robots, with Jonathan LeVine Projects. 

Jonathan Levine Projects is committed to new and cutting-edge art. Its roots date back to 1995 when LeVine’s life-long participation in punk and underground music grew into a curatorial experiment with the visual culture that surrounded him. In 2005, he opened Jonathan LeVine Gallery in the Chelsea district of New York City and had great success nurturing the careers of many celebrated artists. In 2017, the gallery relocated to Jersey City with a newfound focus on community and collaboration. The renamed Jonathan LeVine Projects aims to create engaging programs and interesting partnerships beyond the traditional gallery space. With an eye towards honoring and connecting with the history and context of Post War art, Jonathan LeVine Projects explores the terrain of the high, the low and everything in between. In 2019, Jonathan LeVine Projects transitioned from a brick-and-mortar gallery to a virtual exhibition platform, spearheading a digital marketplace for fine art. 

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