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Kevin Lewis Fougerousse; photography by Ben Garrett

Finding Emo

by Steve Carter | Modern Luxury Dallas magazine | June 26, 2012

Edward Hopper famously remarked, “If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” Neo-expressionist artist Kevin Lewis Fougerousse (klfstudios.com) is a testament to that notion; his art is a psyche-plumbing therapy that addresses his passion, biography and the existential contradictions he observes. His current work, Fougerousse says, “is a mixture of poetry, figure drawing, abstraction and symbolism, like a symbolic story for myself.”

Fougerousse’s feral canvases are populated with animals, masked figures, skulls, clowns, words and hybridizations of the aforementioned, exhibiting a compelling effusion of loud, raw energy with a primal urgency that’s reminiscent of both cave painting and graffiti art. “I’m an emotional kind of person,” he adds, “so I’ve got all kinds of crap running through my head constantly, and to express it on canvas is a relief, a release.”

Fougerousse, 33, hails from Russellville, Ark. Art has been a constant since earliest childhood, but it’s only been a full-time pursuit for the past three years. At 22, Kevin migrated to LA and worked as a personal trainer and model, rarely finding time to express himself artistically. After eight years in the fast lane, and reeling from a breakup with a longtime girlfriend, he returned to Russellville to reconnect with art. Secluded in his childhood home, he got to work.

“I had financial freedom for the first time in years,” he recalls, “and I bought my first big chunk of supplies. I set up shop in the sunroom overlooking the lake, and it was just good. The paintings I produced all had to do with past relationships, the breakup in LA and the move back home. They touched on things that happened 10 years back; baggage, things that weighed on me.”

Then almost two years ago, Fougerousse’s Dallasite sister convinced him to give the city a chance. It has been a good fit. He’s already shown with Ro2 Art at the Aloft Hotel, Gallery Bomb and the Cameron Gallery, and this past January his solo KLF On View was the inaugural exhibition at W.A.A.S. Gallery (waasgallery.com). Comprising 60 plus pieces, (paintings, ceramics, installation, poetry), the show also had Fougerousse himself on display, doing an on-site painting in view of a live audience.

Fougerousse cites Basquiat, Pollock, Charlie Isoe and Van Gogh as influences, and acknowledges that color first got him into painting. “I’ve always said if I’m not creating something, I feel dead in a way—not to be dramatic about it,” he says. “I need painting to make me feel good.”