John Kitses
Medium: Painting

Studio Location:
Paintcan Studios - Studio# 303
10-10 44th Avenue


Artist Bio:
I grew up in Massachusetts. At Rice University in Houston, Texas, I studied painting with Bas Poulos and printmaking with Karin Broker. I then moved to New York City where I have lived since, working first as a fine art silkscreen printer for Rupert Smith, who printed for Andy Warhol. I editioned prints for Kenny Scharf, Michael Heizer, and Keith Haring, including one of his last editions, a collaboration with William S. Burroughs.

Following that, an early job in interactive graphics lead to a career in graphic design, which I continue in to this day. My experience includes editorial illustration for newspapers, cartoon illustration and animation for children's media, and extensive work in print design, motion graphics and 3D.

I live in Jackson Heights, Queens, with my family, and work in magazine publishing. Painting and drawing occupy most of my free time, and when I'm not in the studio, I head out on my bike to paint the landscapes of New York City.

Artist Statement:
My paintings explore the spaces where nature meets human development, particularly at roadways, and at bodies of water. My landscape series have focused on North Brooklyn in the early 1990s, Eastern Europe, China, the freeway overpasses of the Long Island Expressway, and most recently Newtown Creek.

I try to capture the liminal state of overlooked spaces, before abandonment or development erases their history. I choose mistreated urban and industrial landscapes as subjects in order to escape conventional expectations of beauty, and to avoid idealizing the world we live in. I am not concerned with describing a scene, but rather capturing the beauty in the light and space of a particular moment. These transient moments happen anywhere, even amid waste and decay, and I find that their juxtaposition against otherwise disregarded or mundane places creates more compelling and relatable imagery.

I work on paper in water-based media: watercolor, gouache and acrylic. I create landscape paintings on-site while traveling, and expand these images to large scale in the studio. I try to work quickly, to capture the immediacy and energy of on-site sketches in my larger work.

All images and text copyright John Kitses