15 oct 2021

Foreword: Why you should go see Kenny Dunkan’s exhibition during the FIAC

Guests of this new FIAC 2021 Special Art Issue, American art stars Rashid Johnson and Mark Bradford share their thoughts on the role of the artist in society and the importance of the question of their identity, African-American in both cases,  in their creation. These questions are in line with those of the French artist Kenny Dunkan, exhibited from October 22 at the Studio des Acacias in Paris by the Reiffers Art Initiatives endowment fund, and whose mentor is none other than… Rashid Johnson.

Kenny Dunkan, “No Apologies” (2020). Courtesy Gallery The Girls of Calvary

“How can you be a gay Latin American artist of color and still be poetic?”
Mark Bradford takes up this question of Felix Gonzalez-Torres in these pages. How, today as in the past, can you be a black and gay artist without producing works that are overdetermined by these categories? Works that can be subtle and poetic despite everything? – and this “whole” is a lot. Creations that do not correspond to what we – let’s also question this “we” – expect from a gay artist of color. Still in these pages, Rashid Johnson says the same thing : “One of the great debates in my life as an artist has always been how to address my concerns as a black American man, and to talk about the conditions of that experience, without being held hostage to that experience.” Committed, these artists have never given in to didacticism and withdrawal, always preferring creation and poetry. Without ever evading revolt and violence.


Kenny Dunkan also belongs to this family of artists. The work of this thirty-year-old Frenchman was highlighted in our previous issue. It celebrated his singular way of transcending his Caribbean heritage in installations, sculptures, photographs and videos with a luxury of details and technical materials (plastic, carabiners, foam) forming hyper-contemporary ensembles that refer to the fields of fashion and luxury as well as to that of spirituality. His black body was already a major – and obviously symbolic – support for his production. Since then, Kenny Dunkan has become the first artist to receive a mentorship from Reiffers Art Initiatives.


This new Reiffers Art Initiatives  endowment fundis not unrelated to
 Numéro art.
 Created by its director of publication Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers, who offered me to be its deputy director, Reiffers Art Initiatives naturally shares the values of the magazine: to promote the young French scene and cultural diversity. It will now offer a young creator of this scene the opportunity to be mentored each year under the direction of an internationally renowned artist. Rashid Johnson chose to be that mentor for Kenny Dunkan in 2021. “There’s something visceral about Kenny’s art,”  he told us. It is about the body, commitment, conflict… His works create real moments of ambiguity. You never know if they are the object of a performance, or of torture, or of pleasure… In it, he expresses his own vision, which he is, authentically. It’s the mark of a true artist.” Kenny Dunkan explained to us that his art has always sought to “Generate [sa] your own image and not the one you [lui] have assigned”. As a result of their exchanges and this first mentoring of Reiffers Art Initiatives, a new exhibition by Kenny Dunkan opens its doors in Paris during the FIAC, at the Studio des Acacias. Its title should surprise no one: “NO APOLOGIES”.



Order the Art Issue 9 here.

First winner of the Reiffers Art Initiatives mentorship program, Kenny Dunkan will inaugurate his solo exhibition “NO APOLOGIES” on October 22 during FIAC 2021 at Studio des Acacias, Paris 17th.

Kenny Dunkan, “No Apologies” (2020). Courtesy Gallery The Girls of Calvary