Cultured Magazine

April/May 2016

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Five years ago, artist Kalen Hollomon moved to New York from Los Angeles, where he painted and sculpted large-scale works. In his tiny Chinatown apartment, he decided to try his hand at collage. "I'm turned on by the fact that there's such a lack of the artist's hand in it," Hollomon says. "To me that's really attractive. It took the ego out of it for me." Hollomon's collages reappropriate the codes of luxury fashion as a way to mischievously mix high and low ideas of beauty, sexuality and identity. He cuts out Fendi and Chanel bags and dresses and coats found on Céline and Balmain runways and superimposes the clippings on an unlikely celebrity or random person on the street. In one of his works, supermodel Cara Delevingne holds up her shirt to reveal she has a male torso. In another, Hollomon fuses a Prada bag and logo with an image of two interns sitting on steps causally holding the red handbag. "I was just trying to do something fun and playful," says the artist, whose signature style adorns the album cover and singles artwork for Beauty Behind the Madness, the Grammy-award winning album from R&B artist The Weeknd. "At the time I was feeling everything in that world of art and fashion was so serious and untouchable to so many people," he says, adding that the resulting high fashion-focused works that mix Dior and Saint Laurent with an everyday aesthetic are his way of making an "unattainable fantasy world" feel more accessible. Eventually, as Hollomon explored New York, he took his cutouts to the streets and on train rides around the city. In one of the interactive collages, he foisted a red leather Céline bag onto a standing, seemingly unaware male passenger on the F train. "I was always looking for content so I thought, Why not use the world around me?" explains the artist, who has collaborated with Gucci, Calvin Klein and Courrèges. "I also love the spontaneity of real time—it only exists in that one moment." Recently Hollomon has turned his attention to short videos that animate the static images found in his collages as a way to continue his exploration of what lies beneath the surface of popular culture. For example, in the video collage titled Saint Laurent, a drum rolls and a hand completes a magic trick of pulling off one of its fingers. It is a metaphor for myth-making iconic imagery that fashion labels use to sell products. To him, his work is "not as much about the bag or the brand as it is about the relationship between that brand or bag and the other image that it is collaged with," he explains. "To see these opposing images together maybe will change the way that I view masculinity or the way that it feels to be a man or the way I see women. It feels like success for me when it starts to do that." 118 IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST CUTOUT KING Kalen Hollomon's collages turn an irreverent eye toward high fashion. BY ANTWAUN SARGENT Hollomon's collages appropriate symbols of fashion and pop culture, juxtaposing them with images from daily life.

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