Kent Christensen’s drawings, illustrations, prints and oil paintings explore personal and cultural associations with food, place, society, politics, religion, history and popular culture. They also embrace the traditions of still life painting, religious iconography, Surrealism and Pop Art.
While he gained recognition as an award winning New York based illustrator in the 1990’s Kent Christensen noticed recurring themes in his assignments to illustrate articles about everything from politics and computers to drugs and the latest food and health obsessions. The range of human obsession seems to be endless and inexhaustible, and the objects of our obsession often tell us more about ourselves and our cultural identities than anything else. Expanding from his watercolor illustrations into larger oil paintings for gallery shows, private commissions and cruise ship murals in the early 2000’s provided a new venue for his explorations. Personal and spiritual icons began finding their way into his paintings, creating totems that evoke a sense of discovery, multiple layers of meaning, ritual and intimacy. His works became a natural venue for cultural and social commentary and satire.
Christensen grew up in the orange, lemon and avocado groves of California, where he acquired a fondness for orange crate labels, popular culture and local fast food. Raised in Mormon culture, with its strict prohibitions against vices such as smoking and drinking, he gained an appreciation for the substitute vice of sugar — an indulgence so zealous that the artist refers to that highly addictive substance as ‘Mormon Heroin.’ Some of his work functions as both celebration and satire of this ‘Mormon folly’ for sweets. It also operates in the larger context of America’s corresponding moral misalignment and insatiable appetite for “just about everything; with its greed, materialism, rising obesity levels and contradictory obsessions with fast food, over-indulgence, fitness and body image.”
Kent Christensen was born in Los Angeles. He has created illustrations for publications including TIME, BusinessWeek, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Scholastic, The San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine and many others. His paintings are included in public & private collections throughout the world. He lives and works at Sundance in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, teaches at the University of Utah and Utah Valley University and since 2006 has exhibited primarily at London’s gallery “Eleven” in Belgravia.